By Elly P. ’21 Banner Staff
When someone asks you for a fun fact, what do you say? Does one come to mind easily, or do you have to think for a while, eventually settling on sharing your favorite ice cream flavor? For Thomasina Hare ’21, thinking of a fun fact is easier than for most: in 2017, Thomasina was in a Mother’s Day themed viral ad for Kraft Mac N’ Cheese entitled “Swear Like a Mother” starring Thomasina’s mother, Melissa Mohr, author of the book “Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing.”
Kraft reached out to Ms. Mohr and asked her to star in the ad. When told about the ad, Thomasina knew she had to find a way to be in the ad “for the memes.” After a makeshift audition at the Mohr-Hare household, the producer let Thomasina into the commercial, which features Ms. Mohr giving other mothers alternatives to swear words that they can say in front of their kids. “For example, when your kids are running around like caffeinated gorillas when you’re trying to make a web video, you might say, ‘What the frog? You’re acting like flippin’ goof nuggets. Take that horse hockey outside,’ instead of, ‘Calm the (bleep) down and get your little (bleeps) outside!” Ms. Mohr says in the commercial.
Throughout the ad, as her mom explains alternate swear words, Thomasina wanders around out of focus in the background, pretending to eat Kraft Mac N’ Cheese, which her Celiac Disease actually makes her allergic to. Thomasina freely admits that she was not the star of the ad: “During one of the shots, where my only job was to make a disgusted face at my mom, the director STILL told me that I was overacting and reshot over 20 times.” (The Banner is proud to report that while her early acting might have resulted in over 20 reshoots, Thomasina is now an active member of Winsor’s drama community and will be in the upcoming play “Star Girl”)
As amusing and innocent as the advertisement may seem, at the time, some people disagreed. In fact, many people disagreed: upon seeing the ad, the conservative family group One Million Moms demanded that Kraft pull the ad on the grounds that it “insulted and offended” mothers. In a statement on their website, the company asserted that the “ad is irresponsible and offensive…Is this really what Kraft thinks of us moms? Kraft just disrespected mothers on our holiday. It is never a good business practice to offend a large percentage of your potential customers, and this ad does just that.” They also asked people to reach out to Kraft Mac N’ Cheese to protest.
Although they were eventually successful in convincing Kraft to discontinue using the ad, Thomasina says she wasn’t that upset about the campaign. “For the most part, the negative response didn’t particularly bother me—my mom and I found it funny. I can see how the commercial could be offensive to someone who holds a different opinion of swearing than I do.” She did take issue with some of the YouTube comments: “While most of the [comments] were pretty innocuous, some went so far as to compare my mom to the devil or threaten her.” Ms. Mohr agreed with Thomasina, saying “They also boycotted the zesty salad guy, so I felt that I was in good company.”
Thomasina’s first brush with controversy resulted in a viral video with over 4 million views on YouTube before Kraft took it down, as well as an “Audience Honor” in the short form video category at the Shorty Awards, an awards show for social media content. Apart from the angry moms, Thomasina’s first brush with fame was unique.