The Toronto Symphony Goes Viral. World Class Status Cemented.

Toronto has always been the pesky younger sibling of the major world city family, constantly tagging along and trying valiantly to be just as charming and forward thinking as its older siblings New York, Paris, London, Berlin and Sydney.

Thanks to a tip from Soho The Dog, it seems as though the city is ready to play with the big boys.

The intertubes are still in the dark as to who the mystery tagger is but one look at the photographs got Miss Mussel’s spidey senses tingling. It is clear who is responsible.

In what can only be described as a brilliant stroke of genius, the marketing department at the Toronto Symphony decided to push the boundaries of advertising convention and go to the streets. This bold, innovative campaign is has two discrete but related goals.

The first is to create that Holy Grail of public relations: buzz. Mahler is featured on programs in February, March and April 2008. They are at least 4 months away but already people are talking about it. Miss Mussel can only hope that those in charge have a firm grasp on how to pace a campaign. Peaking at Christmas could spell disaster and a certain return for Toronto to the second-tier status it has tried to shed for so long.

Follow up happenings will include flyposting, handing out leaflets at clubs. Rumours of several surprise mini-gigs by orchestra members at local venues are floating about in the excitement. A source at the symphony revealed that an idea for two lobby-based tattoo stations was bandied about during the initial brainstorming sessions as was the possibility of distributing the Kentucky Symphony’s Ga-Ga for Gustav buttons. Mercifully these were discarded.

The second aspect of the campaign is, of course, reaching out to those that wouldn’t normally intersect with orchestral music. By communicating in the vernacular, as it were, the Symphony is getting its message across in a non-confrontational, non-judgemental way. Essentially, the TSO is acknowleding that, as a commenter at the Torontoist so aptly put it, “tagging is a fine expression of the freewheeling creativity of an underprivileged urban class, who are denied entry to the world of high art by its culturo-normative insistence on adherence to outmoded and outdated Eurocentric Modernist and post-Modernist aesthetics.” With this ad campaign, they are clearly doing their part to right that wrong. Way to go, guys.

Other area arts organizations such as the Royal Ontario Museum, The Hockey Hall of Fame and Ontario Art Gallery are watching this experiment closely. If it works, Toronto will be firmly in league with its already-world-class peers, thereby forcing the rest of the country to finally acknowledge that the city is, as it has claimed for all these years, the Centre of the Universe . After all, a city’s not a city without high brow graffiti.

Photos courtesy of Dave Till.
UPDATE: Please note that the TSO has nothing to do with the graffiti and the above comments are made in jest. See comments section for more.


  1. Miss Mussel

    Miss Mussel is 100% agreement with Kevin’s comment: the TSO does not have anything to do with the graffiti as described above. The article is a tongue-in-cheek commentary regarding the struggle arts organizations face when trying to market to the younger generation. A what if, if you will.

    Incidentally, the TSO offers a very innovative program where patrons 29 or under can get up to two tickets for $12ea or less, something Miss Mussel takes advantage of on a regular basis.

    Check it out at

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