Toast the dog is the toast of In­sta­gram

Bloomberg Businessweek (Asia) - - ETC. - By Ari­ana Igneri

Toast is a Cav­a­lier King Charles spaniel who was res­cued from a North Carolina puppy mill in 2011 by Katie Sturino, blog­ger and wife of co­me­dian Josh Ostro­vsky, aka the Fat Jew. Toast quickly—in hu­man years, at least—tran­scended her hum­ble be­gin­nings. Five years later she’s in­ter­net-fa­mous, with more than 360,000 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers. She’s ap­peared in pho­tos with ac­tresses such as Jane Lynch and Reese Wither­spoon; she wore more than $150,000 in di­a­monds to her “wed­ding” in Jan­uary, which was spon­sored by a dozen-plus high-end brands pro­moted on her ac­count; and she re­cently re­leased her own life­style book, ToastHamp­ton: How to Sum­mer in Style (Harper De­sign).

ToastHamp­ton is as much a man­ual for how to lever­age fame in 2016 as it is a book about a cute dog. Ad­ver­tis­ers spend half a bil­lion dol­lars a year selling prod­ucts via an­i­mal in­flu­encers, says James Nord of Fur Card, an on­line plat­form that con­nects mar­keters with glam pets. Toast has pro­moted prod­ucts for brands in­clud­ing Bar­neys and Coach. Karen Walker, a de­signer known for her stylish sun­glasses, gave Toast her big break last sum­mer with a photo shoot fea­tur­ing a wind ma­chine. An­i­mals with ac­counts as big as Toast’s can make about a thou­sand dol­lars per spon­sored post; those with a few mil­lion fol­low­ers can make enough money for their own­ers to quit their jobs. So if your su­per­cute Pomera­nian isn’t earn­ing his keep, the book might be worth the $16.99 to see what you two can as­pire to.

ToastHamp­ton is aimed mostly at stok­ing LOLs among the dog’s ex­ist­ing fans—Sturino prob­a­bly doesn’t ex­pect you to ac­tu­ally take your va­ca­tion cues from her pet. But it also aims to de­fine Toast as a glob­ally known as­pi­ra­tional fig­ure in the mode of a Martha or a Gwyneth (is there really room for an­other?) who con­fers sta­tus on brands, as op­posed to the other way around. “This is my face every morn­ing when I wake up in the Hamp­tons,” Toast—OK, Sturino—writes, sit­ting next to a cup of cof­fee from Tate’s, a fa­vorite bakeshop of Hamp­tons-go­ers, her pink tongue wag­ging in the sun­shine. There’s a glossy, full-page photo of her at Sant Am­broeus cafe, an­other lo­cal hot spot, and one of her run­ning down porch steps in a Ralph Lau­ren sweater. In the back of the book, a list of “pup-ap­proved” restau­rants, stores, and tourist des­ti­na­tions in­cludes— sur­prise!—Tate’s, Sant Am­broeus, and Ralph Lau­ren, which, though not paid en­dorse­ments, clearly came with such perks as a wardrobe of dog­gie po­los.

Sturino is al­ready fa­mil­iar with the very real re­wards of in­ter­net fame. Ostro­vsky’s In­sta­gram ac­count, with more than 8 mil­lion fol­low­ers, has helped him snag, so far, a mod­el­ing con­tract and a book deal; he even has a wine la­bel called White Girl Rosé. Thank­fully, Sturino is well aware of how ridicu­lous dog­gie fame is, which saves the book from be­ing ob­nox­ious—or, at least, to­tally ob­nox­ious. In one pic­ture, Toast poses in front of the store BookHamp­ton and says she’s al­ways been “very into read­ing.” A few pho­tos later, she droops over a stack of cook­books. “I ac­tu­ally can’t read,” she ad­mits. It’s the kind of brazen lie we don’t of­ten catch our dogs telling, and cop­ping to it makes Toast that much more hu­man. <BW>


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