Chicago attorney Marc Cooperman, who has represented a toy company in lawsuits involving Beanie Babies’ names, hit the nail on the head when he said he believes Ty Inc. got what it wanted in its release of the Sasha and Malia dolls that “were not intended to bear the likeness of President Barack Obama’s daughters”: PUBLICITY.

I would suspect that the company knew when it introduced the two dolls, they would cause some commotion and the company would get some press out of it.

All proceeds from the sales of the Sasha and Malia dolls, which have been renamed “Marvelous Mariah” and “Sweet Sydney,” will apparently be donated to charity.

Maybe now we can all move on to the next Obama saga, saving our economy from economic collapse.

I’ve mentioned before that as a marketer, I have no general opposition to sales and entrepreneurship. Making things and selling things – it’s a large part of what makes the world go around. Michelle Obama’s anger irritation with the Ty toy company, though, is understandable – even warranted – in my opinion. I went back and reread the story, and Michelle’s own word for Ty’s actions was “inappropriate.”

Those who claim that Michelle and Barack used their daughters as part of their political campaign are misguided. How soon they forget Barack’s anger when the cameras followed him and Sasha through their Chicago neighborhood on Halloween. The girls are smart and beautiful – and a cherished part of what makes the Obama family so special. The two times we’ve seen them boldly and publicly were Election Night and at the Inauguration, as we should have.

If you want to talk about displaying kids for political gain, you need look back no further than Sarah Palin dragging her infant son around till all hours, only to have her youngest daughter care for him. And the pregnant daughter and fiance-by-force. And the son in the military. Give me a break, you folks who can’t/don’t/won’t see reality for what it is.

One question in the midst of the commentary was how the Obama girls are being harmed by these dolls. The mere fact that their father is now the most scrutinized man on the planet will affect these girls’ lives in ways unimagined, and in ways far more sustained than having toy likenesses made of them. But that doesn’t make Ty’s position right. It’s hard to argue that this is anything other than profiteering by Ty.

Not sure whether it warrants a full-fledged boycott, but I know I won’t knowingly be buying or recommending Ty toys as stocking stuffers anytime soon.

Just my two cents, for what their worth.

UPDATE, 25 Jan. 3:06 p.m.

Not being the denizen of the Internet (or the blogging world) that I am, my sister hadn’t heard or seen any of the bruhaha surrounding the Obama girls dolls. Her opinion, succinct and common-sense as ever: Michelle and the Obama family have much bigger/more important things to worry about. These dolls are the least of their concerns, and she would have been much better off just letting this go without any public comment. My sister may have a point…

Merry Christmas, one and all!

You know, even though Thanksgiving is set aside in the U.S. as the day we come together to remember and give thanks for all our blessings, Christmas is always the time I really feel the most gratitude well up. We are all so incredibly blessed. How do I know you are blessed? You’re online reading this. When you think about it, even the poorest American is many times wealthier than most people in the world.

Most of us have plenty of food, shelter, clothing, pets, gifts, trees, lights, music, and most importantly, people with whom to share this “most wonderful time of the year.” The gift of gratitude itself is life-transforming. (If you haven’t heard of or seen The Secret, check it out.)

Which is why, I think, the e-mail letter I received from Michelle Obama touched me so much. She shouldn’t have to remind us to remember the less fortunate and our soldiers serving overseas … and yet she felt the need. While I donate regularly to the local foodbanks, I have never made a care package or even written a letter to a soldier. So, although it will arrive too late for Christmas, I will be sending a care package for the New Year!

If this resonates with you, perhaps you and your family will feel inclined to do something similar.

Wishing you and yours the happiest holidays!

Laura

P.S. – If you happen to come across this post today (posted Dec. 25, 2008, 832 a.m. PDT) or tomorrow, keep checking back. The plan is to keep posting all year – including directions for how to make a great stocking!

MICHELLE’S LETTER

Laura –

This holiday season, the grassroots movement you helped build can make a big difference for those in need.

I hope you will join me in supporting your favorite charity or contributing to causes that are especially meaningful to me and my family.

While many of us will spend the holidays counting our blessings and sharing dinner with loved ones, millions of people around the country won’t be so fortunate. Donating to your local food bank will help provide a holiday meal to people in your community who can’t afford one.

Talking with the families of deployed troops was one of the most rewarding experiences I had during the campaign. Giving to Operation USO Care Package is a great way to send members of our military stationed around the world a reminder that someone back home is thinking of them.

This is a time to celebrate our blessings, the new year, and a new era for our country. But it’s also a time to come together on behalf of those who need our help.

Thank you for all that you do and have a very happy holiday season,

Michelle Obama