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Why This Toronto Choir Provocatively Captured the Passion and Pleasure of… Singing


Publicis Toronto’s Vini Dalvi and Singing Out’s Noah Witenoff on supporting the city’s first 2SLGBTQQIA+ choir by capturing the euphoria of song and pairing it with risqué headlines, writes LBB’s Josh Neufeldt

Why This Toronto Choir Provocatively Captured the Passion and Pleasure of… Singing

There is something absolutely magical about singing. Whether you’re up on stage or singing in the shower, pitch perfect or perfectly pitchless, sharing one’s voice through the power of song can be joyful, cathartic, and in some cases, euphoric. 

This last insight, in particular, is something that Singing Out, Toronto’s first 2SLGBTQQIA+ choir really latched onto. And, in partnering with Publicis Toronto to create a campaign promoting the choir's message of inclusivity and diversity, it proved the perfect point of inspiration. After all, singing might not be the only activity that can leave someone out of breath, their mouth in an ‘O’ and a look of pleasure on their face. 

The result was ‘Oooooooout of Home’, an OOH campaign placed around Toronto highlighting the overwhelming pleasure that can often come from singing. Created in collaboration with photographer Matt Barnes, the work displays choir members singing, accompanied by double entendre headlines such as ‘It’s even better with more people’ and ‘Do Re Me Fa So La Ti O’. It’s fun, lighthearted, and a very necessary reminder of the way music can bring people together in a time when 2SLGBTQQIA+ demographics are often targeted with hate. And, perhaps most importantly, a good way to point out that the best music can always be found on the sheet(s). 

LBB’s Josh Neufeldt sat down with Publicis Toronto executive creative director Vini Dalvi, and Singing Out vice president Noah Witenoff to discuss how this campaign came to life. 

LBB> Tell us more about Singing Out! How was this choir formed, and what are you hoping to accomplish?

Noah> Singing Out was founded in 1992, and we were Toronto’s first 2SLGBTQQIA+ choir.
The world was a different place in those days. Basic queer rights in Ontario had only been passed through provincial parliament in 1986, and AIDS had killed thousands, with no good treatment in sight. Coming out to friends and family was extremely risky, leaving many in the community alone and in need of support. Standing on stage and singing as an openly queer choir was an act of defiance, and an opportunity to put a very different face on the community than that seen on the news.

Today, as a queer community, we have come a long way, yet still we see these horrible stories in the news of anti 2SLGBTQQIA+ rhetoric. From protesters against drag story time to a university in the US cancelling an all male choir’s show with only two hours notice - because a member was gay and they disagreed with his lifestyle - now more than ever do we need to be present, proud and to take up space.

This new campaign does just that, and we are so proud of it! We are a non-auditioned, open and inclusive choir, and we want Singing Out to be the choir you think of when you think of Toronto choirs. 

LBB> What was the brief, and how did this relationship get started? 

Noah> As a food stylist in the city, I have worked with some amazing people over the years. I reached out to Tina Vahn and Tricia Piasecki at Publicis, hoping to pitch my non-profit choir and see if our story would resonate with them as much as it did with me. After this meeting, I knew we would work well together and that they would have the choir's best interest in mind. They brought the choir back to Publicis, and it was a match made in heaven. The agency has been such a supporter of the choir throughout this whole process and have shown that they understand who we are and what we are about. Their goal from the get go was to help us get the word out about how important a choir like ours is for our community, and to really show how fun we are as well.

Vini> Noah approached us and asked if we’d be interested in collaborating on an awareness campaign. We jumped at the chance, not only for the creative opportunity, but to also help shine a light on an important, local organisation. 

The brief was born from the insight that choirs are a central part of the 2SLGTBQQIA+ community; but most choirs only focus on one letter: ‘G’. As the most inclusive, non-auditioned, mixed-voice choir in the city, our brief was simple: tell Torontonians that Singing Out ensures all voices are heard.

LBB> Representing the fact that singing transcends boundaries and brings people together is a big task! As such, what immediate ideas came to mind, and why was focusing on the euphoria of singing the right creative choice?

Vini> We opened the brief up to the entire creative department. Everyone rose to the challenge; we got so many incredible ideas… more of which are still to come. 

The team did their research and upon watching videos of the choir, saw the connection that a singing face looks just like a face experiencing another type of pleasure. From there, they knew the magic would be in writing pitch-perfect, double entendre headlines.

Noah> Publicis brought this amazing concept to us, and once they did, we immediately loved it. We were highly involved in the fine tuning and making sure the tag lines worked well, without going too far away from the music. We also were involved in collaborating with how we shot the members and the cropping of the images, assuring the concept stayed true to who we are, without going too far.

As for the euphoria side of things, I would say that singing has saved so many of us during the past 30 years, and this is especially true during the last three. The pandemic was so hard on Singing Out and its membership. Once we had to stop rehearsals and pivot to virtual for a year and a half, we knew it was so important for us to stay strong and keep our community singing. Singing makes you feel so many things, and euphoria is the best one. The power one feels when singing in a group of peers and chosen family is incredible. We love to sing and we feel that euphoria is something we all need to feel more of these days.

LBB> How did photographer Matt Barnes get involved in this project, and why was he the right person for the job?

Vini> We asked Matt directly, and to our delight he accepted immediately. He was the perfect choice because his style is bold, graphic, and evokes emotion - exactly what we needed for our campaign. We were thrilled he could participate, and he truly took the photography to another level.

LBB> And what was the photography process like? Who all did you take photos of, and how did you approach capturing them to create the work?

Vini> Every model is a real Singing Out choir member. Given the nature of the images, we weren’t sure how many members would be comfortable volunteering. However, as it turned out, the answer was a lot. We actually had to cap it at 11 people because we only had one day to shoot.

In terms of the shoot itself, Matt made the set fun and relaxed. He’d crank their favourite song to sing, and while they sang, he just snapped away. It all came together perfectly and naturally.

LBB> Equally memorable are the provocative headlines accompanying each picture. Were these written before the photos were even taken? And what was the writing process like?

Vini> Some lines were written in advance, but after seeing the images, we were inspired to write more. The process was to find just the right lines so the interpretation could go either way; they’re finding pleasure in song, or they’re finding pleasure in…

LBB> How did you go about selecting OOH locations across Toronto? Were there any spots in particular that were especially important to get?

Vini> Working with Publicis Media from a media POV was great. We briefed them that we would love some placements around the village in Toronto. We targeted billboards, resto-bars, and residential placements around the Church-Wellesley corridor as our priority, and then looked for large impactful placements around Toronto that would really let the work sing.

LBB> What challenges have you faced during this project? How did you overcome them?

Vini> Honestly, this was a dream project from start to finish. The Singing Out clients have been incredible collaborators, and everyone else who donated their time to the project jumped in with both feet and truly made the work better. This was a good reminder that when it’s for a good cause, people are willing to go all in, and we are so thankful to everyone who helped bring it to life! 

Noah> When we received the proposal for this project, the immediate concern was figuring out how to avoid over-sexualising our members, or make any choir member feel uncomfortable. It was super important for us to make sure the images were cropped in such a way that the viewer could not tell what was going on, but that once they looked closer, they could tell we were singing. We are so proud that our members were photographed while singing their favourite songs!

The headlines were also a challenge. This campaign's goal was to create awareness of our choir, as well as to get more people to our shows. The headlines had to match that goal and stay within a musical vibe. These lines could have been much more graphic, but we wanted to make sure each line reflected musicality, the idea of a performance, as well as a suggestion to come learn more about us. I think Publicis really succeeded, all while making you pause and chuckle.

LBB> What has the initial response been like? Have more people joined the choir since the campaign launched?

Vini> Yes, it’s been very well-received all around. Singing Out has seen a jump in social followers, and both of their ‘XXX Kinky Cabaret 30th Anniversary’ shows sold out. Here’s to hoping that continues for their big show in June.

We’re also told that choir members are feeling like celebrities, and that they’re framing and displaying their prints in their homes. We love that!

Noah> The initial response has been really positive so far. There’s been great feedback online, and our socials have seen a substantial increase in followers. We also had our cabaret a week after the launch, with both shows selling out. We hope that that will continue for the next show on June 10th. 

LBB> What made now the right time for this campaign? And how does it fit into Singing Out’s platform for 2023?

Noah> Having this be our 30th year, we wanted to make a splash somehow. We are so lucky to be getting a campaign of this size - something the choir could not have done without the support of Publicis and their contacts. A big thank you to Matt Barnes at Westside Studio for the amazing photography as well. Our cabaret just came out and our next show is coming out in June. We hope that this campaign will get people talking, and make them want to learn more about us and come see our shows. A great goal would be to sell out shows year after year and have the support of Toronto for our amazing, important choir.

LBB> Working on a project that benefits the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community must have been a powerful experience. What did the chance to be involved in this project mean to you?

Vini> It meant so much to all of us at Publicis. With all the news headlines talking about banning drag artists, and trans people being targeted and their lives endangered, it’s more important than ever to be spotlighting and celebrating the 2SLGTBQQIA+ community. 

LBB> Is there anything you’d like to tell Canadians about how they can support the choir?

Noah> To help support Singing Out, please go to We are a non-profit choir who rely heavily on grants and support from our community. 

We are also looking for corporate sponsors. We offer different levels of support that come with different perks. A corporate sponsor can really help make a big difference for Singing Out. To learn more you can email us at Your support means everything, so please help us continue to spread the joy of music! 

For tickets to our June show, please visit

LBB> Is there anything you’d like to add? 

Noah> Singing Out is more than just a choir. We are a community. Being an openly queer choir in itself is a form of protest, and we have been singing for our lives for 30 years. We work very hard to create a safe space for our members where they can be themselves and be proud of it, we are proud to occupy space and sing out loud, and we are so excited for Toronto to see us take pleasure in song!

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Publicis Canada, Thu, 30 Mar 2023 15:13:29 GMT