C&B

Putting storytelling at the heart of its efforts to help clients and communities grow.
With anthropomorphic ginger bread cookies, Co-op’s Christmas campaign was all about showing how it could make holidays easier.

With anthropomorphic ginger bread cookies, Co-op’s Christmas campaign was all about showing how it could make holidays easier.

CALGARY IS A UNIQUE CITY in Canada. The boom-bust town flourishes when the oil is flowing and struggles more than most when the economy is suffering.

But despite some leaner times in Alberta’s largest city, newcomer agency C&B Advertising is thriving – adding business and helping its clients and community grow, packing in a number of awards in the process (including this year’s Best in Show at the Anvils).

Launched in 2012, when the province was on the cusp of another slump, the agency is well aware of the environment in which it operates, says Leigh Blakely, partner at C&B.

“We want our clients to succeed, and we’ll help them get there by any means,” she says. “Given Calgary’s unique economic situation, it’s crucial we serve our clients properly. Every dollar matters more. Part of why we started our agency was to be more nimble, more agile and to be free to build the appropriate team tailored for every client project.”

To showcase that the Banff National Park is a celebration of life in every form, this family of hand-made lino-cut logos is at the heart of the Banff and Lake Louise brand.

To showcase that the Banff National Park is a celebration of life in every form, this family of hand-made lino-cut logos is at the heart of the Banff and Lake Louise brand.
Alberta’s promise of breathtaking landscapes translated into the “(remember to breathe)” slogan and a campaign that celebrates the moments travellers long for.

Alberta’s promise of breathtaking landscapes translated into the “(remember to breathe)” slogan and a campaign that celebrates the moments travellers long for.

First, C&B uses its small team to its advantage. For example, while only a staff of 15, the agency has been bolstering its in-house production team to increase speed and accuracy on client work.

“We’re a close-knit team. We can work quickly, efficiently and with a personal touch,” Blakely says.

Second, when every dollar counts, the agency looks beyond traditional forms of costly media for its clients, trying to create deeper brand stories that transcend platforms.

Partner Phil Copithorne points to two recent tourism campaigns for three Rocky Mountain towns. For Banff and Lake Louise, the agency created a cross-brand identity called “Alive,” tapping into the insight that visits to the picturesque towns in the mountains can be a transformative one. The entire branding was created to celebrate different elements of life within the National Park – designed to make consumers feel surrounded by the natural wonders of the retreats.

Damage from Calgary’s 2013 flood caused concerns that the annual Stampede might be put on hold. Working with the festival’s organizers, the agency created a line of t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Hell or High Water” to aid with disaster relief. In the end, the shirts helped raise more than $2 million.

Damage from Calgary’s 2013 flood caused concerns that the annual Stampede might be put on hold. Working with the festival’s organizers, the agency created a line of t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Hell or High Water” to aid with disaster relief. In the end, the shirts helped raise more than $2 million.

A little further north in Jasper, the C&B team tapped into the insight that those who stayed “off the beaten path” had a much richer, more positive experience than those who stayed only in the town. It was the appetite for outdoor adventure that drove people to the northern mountain town, rather than just the scenery. The agency created a unique brand identity for Jasper, focusing on the experiences rather than the destination itself.

All three destinations have seen bumps in visitation since their respective launches. Jasper saw a 4.8% increase in visitors, while other stakeholders in the community, such as the municipality, Parks Canada and other tourism related businesses, adopted the Tourism Jasper branding, creating an unforeseen unified branding approach across the region. A little further south, Lake Louise and Banff also saw bumps in numbers, with each destination almost fully booked during the peak summer seasons last year.

Increasing demand for that richer strategic insight has led to the creation of a new position, Blakely says. Shayne McBride joined as creative strategist in March 2016. The role is a blend of planner, copywriter and researcher, Blakely says, and McBride’s job is to digest research and play it back in a compelling fashion.

“By focusing on creative strategy and engaging storytelling, our executions become more meaningful for the audience,” Copithorne says. “When strategy and creative work together, we are able to tell stories that expose the ‘why,’ instead of the ‘what’ behind the brand.”

To help promote the Co-op’s fresh food offerings, C&B created a year-round campaign, “Fresh Again,” with imagery that reinforced the idea that the products were practically “straight from the farm.”
To help promote the Co-op’s fresh food offerings, C&B created a year-round campaign, “Fresh Again,” with imagery that reinforced the idea that the products were practically “straight from the farm.”

To help promote the Co-op’s fresh food offerings, C&B created a year-round campaign, “Fresh Again,” with imagery that reinforced the idea that the products were practically “straight from the farm.”

He points to a recent campaign for retailer Co-op as a prime example of that blend between strategy and creative. In a bid to make the retailer a “go-to” holiday destination (as well as make the brand stand out during a crowded period), the agency launched a new campaign.

The shop tapped into the insight that the holidays are a stressful time, but the convenience of Co-op as a place to get grocery, gas and libations helps to ease that stress. In effect, the retailer is there for “Holidays Made Easy.”

The agency introduced Calgarians to Ginger and Brad, a pair of helpful gingerbread cookies that talked up not only the convenience of Co-op on traditional media channels, but also shared holiday recipes and other helpful tips through social channels and in-store. The campaign resulted in four-times more consumers engaging with the social posts and helped the retailer maintain its market position during the competitive season.

“Time and time again we’ve been able to get people to look at brands they’ve known and loved for years with fresh eyes,” she says. “We’re passionate about brand stories and positionings. We try to only produce pieces that make our clients proud and serve the industry well.”

Sometimes the best experiences are out of town – even if that town is in the beautiful Rockies. On the insight that people who ventured beyond Jasper’s borders had a better experience, C&B created an entirely new brand platform for the tourism board, which has since been adopted by other partners in the Alberta destination.

Sometimes the best experiences are out of town – even if that town is in the beautiful Rockies. On the insight that people who ventured beyond Jasper’s borders had a better experience, C&B created an entirely new brand platform for the tourism board, which has since been adopted by other partners in the Alberta destination.

CONTACT

Leigh Blakely

Partner

leigh@copithorneandblakely.com