2022 Nil Nisi Optimum Notable Alumni | Leigh Blakely '95

2022 Nil Nisi Optimum Notable Alumni | Leigh Blakely '95

By: Steve Hanulik, Contributing Writer

Nil Nisi Optimum (NNO) Alumni are selected from a multitude of decades and professions, and have brought great honour and pride to their alma mater. This year, two more alumni who have demonstrated notable accomplishments in leadership, service, and dedication to their profession and community joined this prestigious group. 

Leigh Blakely '95 is an agency-focused leader with over 20 years of client service in integrated advertising, brand management, planning, and retail. She graduated from STS in 1995 and proceeded to graduate from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Commerce Honours Marketing degree before working at Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn (BBDO) Advertising in Toronto. Leigh then accepted the position of Jr. Brand Strategist for Ogilvy & Mather in Calgary, and later moved to oversee their Media Planning and Account Services, after which she spent five years at a small independent agency in Calgary. Following her second maternity leave, she decided it was finally time to start an agency of her own. 

The world of advertising strives to create meaningful ideas that leave impressions on customers. Leigh endeavours to tell the unique story behind her clients’ brands. In doing so, she rekindles pride and growth within the client company that drives ongoing marketing efforts. 

Blakely is the ‘B’ in C&B Advertising, which she has operated alongside business partner Phil Copithorne since 2012. C&B is the Brand Behind a Brand™; they have created stunning, award-winning work for the Calgary Stampede, UFA, Heritage Park, ATCO, Green Drop, and redefined provincial tourism with the iconic “Remember to Breathe” campaign for Travel Alberta. The three-minute video was honoured with a Diamond Award from the International Travel Bureau (ITB), often referred to as the ‘Tourism Oscar’. It had a huge impact on the industry, becoming a piece from which other companies took lessons. 

C&B Advertising has been featured on the Strategy Magazine’s A-List for the past three years, and was ranked as one of the Top 20 Agencies in Canada on the Creative Report Card in 2021. Their work over the past ten years has won in National Award Shows from Communications Arts, Applied Arts, Marketing Awards, AMPIA Rosie’s and the Ad Rodeo Anvil Awards. 

According to Leigh, this commitment to creative excellence began with her time as a student at STS. STS provided her with exposure to learn more about an industry she was interested in. During an STS career day, Leigh spent three days with Ogilvy and Mather. She also worked with classmate Heather Cocks ’95 to start a school newspaper, which prompted her interest in marketing creation. 

As the proud mother of two daughters she says that finding a proper balance is the key to lasting success.

“STS created an environment that inspired me to pursue what I loved: creativity. Whether it was art class, speech day, or launching t he school newspaper, my teachers encouraged my success in this area. Nil nisi optimum has stayed with me to this day. In a highly competitive business that depends on continual creative innovation, ST S has equipped me to see past the obstacles and overcome the challenges of bringing new ideas to life.”