Toronto’s newly famous “French Toast Guy” is a fraud I’m afraid, contrary to what you may have read in local news articles that some marketers can now use in presentations to demonstrate the effectiveness of their “Free Earned Media” strategy demonstrate .
The person in question surfaced in videos online last Wednesday, when several TTC drivers noticed a lone man making French toast with a knife and fork on his own small table at bus stops, subway stations and even aboard public transit vehicles local transport ate.
Outfitted with large condiments, chic cloth napkins, pristine white table linens, an expensive-looking thermal bag, a tiny bell, a red apron, and in some cases a silver serving lid and white chef’s toque, the man was hard to miss…
A little too hard to miss if you ask me.
Someone was spotted eating classic French toast while riding the TTC 🍽️ – 📹 Amy O’Neill (@amyoneilll) pic.twitter.com/18EnoKk0v5
— blogTO (@blogTO) January 16, 2023
First off, the guy was clean, compelling, unnaturally friendly for a Toronto native, and perfectly positioned for everyone to film their activities from multiple angles, no matter where they showed up. It was almost as if he was trying to take photos for the gram (or wherever).
At one point I reflected that this might be some sort of public art performance to bring joy to commuters in an otherwise dreary spell of winter. But the mood was gone. It was all too constructed. Too perfect even for someone just hoping to go viral and see their own face on the news.
The striking proof for me was the lack of visible logos anywhere; The man was dressed from head to toe in what appeared to be brand new, unbranded clothing.
I challenge anyone to find a single TTC rider without at least one logo anywhere on their person, be it on a coat, bag, shoe, hat…if you can find one (without a professional camera crew in tow, ) buy a lottery ticket. It’s 2023.
Who is Toronto’s “French Toast Guy” with a white tablecloth dining on the TTC subway? https://t.co/YaFbC5gOgK
— Star GTA (@StarGTANews) January 16, 2023
While my keen senses persuaded me to stop reporting what would normally have been funny, whimsical local news, I couldn’t stop thinking about the french toast guy.
Why did he do that? Does he literally say “I love french toast” in one of those videos? Didn’t I see that guy in a Bell commercial five years ago?
Filled with curiosity, I started scouring my inbox for anything related to the popular brunch dish.
Lo and behold, a press release was sent out by fast food chain Wendy’s exactly a week before people started sending me TTC French Toast Guy videos on Instagram.
“Rise and Shine, Canada! Wendy’s Toast the New Year with NEW Homestyle French Toast Sticks” is the title of this January 4 publication.
“Breakfast lovers can toast to a brighter year with better breakfasts by ordering the all-new Homestyle French Toast Sticks in a 4- or 6-piece menu,” reads the email. “A tasty way to sweeten any morning routine.”
Toast Sticks, but make them bilingual 👩🍳
Our new Homestyle French Toast Sticks are here, get yours today! 😋 pic.twitter.com/a4IAjo6ryF
— Wendys 🇨🇦 (@WendysCanada) January 11, 2023
After seeing this, I contacted Wendy’s Canada to ask directly if they were behind the TTC French Toast guy’s behavior. They responded this afternoon, neither confirming nor denying that it was some sort of guerrilla marketing stunt…which I take as confirmation.
“Hi Lauren. Ah, the elusive French Toast Guy. We can’t yet confirm or deny that Wendy’s was behind this,” a Wendy’s rep wrote via email, including a wink emoji at the end of her sentence.
“These Wendy’s Homestyle French Toast Sticks look mighty delicious, don’t they!”
I mean, I’m not a french toast guy myself, but people on Twitter seem to like the new morning breakfast offering only. Thousands upon thousands have expressed their feelings of amusement, surprise and delight when they saw videos of the man eating French toast on Toronto’s public transit system.
Their minds might change now that they know the guy is just shillings for a huge company — or maybe not.
Maybe they’ll just be amazed at how far it all went before someone sniffed out the truth behind French Toast Guy. i know i am