midland bank campaign 1960’s


Midland Bank “Money Talks” cinema commercial  London 1965


The genesis of BJ’s Midland Bank films was clearly derived from his earlier typographic experiments including his now iconic Watching Words Move.

Between 1965 and 1968 BJ made a series of cinema advertisements for the bank, each one using animated typography to promote a certain aspect of its services. Aimed at younger audiences and screened before popular films of the day, they were greeted with appreciative laughter and sometimes applause.

BJ’s attitude towards type and image was shared by other members of the mid-century American graphic elite. The influence of designers such as Harper’s Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch or Paul Rand ( both good friends and colleagues of BJ ) generated a common belief that words and pictures should be orchestrated to the greatest possible effect. In Britain, however, graphic design was at a very different stage of evolution.

When BJ arrived in London in 1960 most UK advertising still relied on reams of copy appended to an isolated image. BJ’s colleagues at J. Walter Thompson and McCann-Erickson were struck by his preference for image above word, but in general they failed to understand that his aim was to treat them as one and the same.

He would drive JWT copywriters to distraction by asking them to edit their text – four columns into two, two columns into a paragraph, a paragraph into a sentence – and then opting to use an uncaptioned image.

In buying the idea of animated typographic advertisements, Midland Bank was behaving with significant daring. BJ might have been a little taken aback: he told a journalist from Tatler in May 1965,

‘The change in the past five years has been fantastic…I could show you some 200 rejected slides that were once considered too far out.’

Conceived by BJ, the Midland Bank advertisements were written by David Cammell and animated by Trevor Bond.

Working on the first ad in 1965, Bond telephoned BJ from the studio at 3.00am to ask if the dots emerging from the railway engine – dots that were posing as steam – really needed to be pink. In spite of Bond’s forlorn tone the request to go for the less labor-intensive route of ‘just having ordinary white dots’ was met with a sharp refusal. That said, however harsh BJ’s stickling might have seemed in the wee small hours, in general Bond derived enormous satisfaction from making the commercials. ‘We even used the U certificate!’ he remembers. ‘We played with it, moving it about, creating the effect with black holes and underlit color shining through.’


Midland Bank “The Winner” cinema commercial  London 1968


Money Talks – Midland Bank stills from cinema commercial 1964


The Winner – Midland Bank stills from cinema commercial 1968




midland bank folder front

Midland Bank brief and folder with BJ’s writing all over it – London 1968


Midland Bank brief and folder with BJ’s writing all over it – London 1968


midland bank brief

Midland Bank brief – London 1968


BJ also designed a marketing campaign for Midland Bank’s ‘How a Cheque Book Works’ 1967:

Advertising for Midland Bank on how a cheque book works in Punch magazine circa 1968

Advertising for Midland Bank on how a cheque book works in Punch magazine circa 1968


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