CR Blog

Barnbrook's Beating Heart

Advertising, Illustration, Photography

Posted by Eliza Williams, 12 January 2009, 15:42    Permalink    Comments (19)

Designer Jonathan Barnbrook has brought his typographic prowess to bear on this new ad for the British Heart Foundation, created by Grey London.

The spot, which is a touch more subtle than the heart disease ads we have seen of late, features a Virtual Heart Simulator, usually used by the medical profession as a teaching aid, alongside a typographic treatment by Barnbrook of various words from the voiceover.

Agency/creatives: Grey London
Production company: The Producers
Director: Jonathan Barnbrook
Post: Glassworks


I agree with Matt. The voiceover/animated words idea is unoriginal and the use of Barnbrook's 'nu-gothic' typefaces in garish colours adds nothing. Maybe that's just personal taste, however.
Ed Wright
2009-01-12 18:20:36

I agree with Matt. It's not particularly visually striking and I find myself questioning why Barnbrook has dealt with the type in the way that he has for almost every word used.

It's not terrible but I certainly wouldn't say that this is a display of his typographic prowess.
2009-01-12 18:33:25

I find this very uninspiring to be perfectly honest.
Matt Evans
2009-01-12 18:46:03

@ Matt
CR Patrick Burgoyne
2009-01-12 18:54:57

Very uninspiring indeed. This type treatment is called 'Pipography', and Pipo is a Dutch common name for a clown, a stupid clown that is.
2009-01-12 20:58:47

so he does some work about about tibet in china trying to use his skills to say something about the issue when most of you just sit on your backsides saying or doing nothing, and then another ad for a heart charity when most of you seem to spend your time taking the money from your boring corporate clients and giving nothing back - and all you lot can do is come here and slag him off in the most childish way possible. you really should all be really ashamed of yourselves and creative review should stop this kind of commenting it adds nothing to the discussion and just gives people who seem to have the mental age of 3 yr old children a completely free rein.
2009-01-13 01:46:36

I think I'd agree with the majority of comments here. What I do like is the pace of the advert. Its in no hurry, which I think is important with such a sensitive subject matter.

Also, whilst at university I heard a lecture by Jonathan Barnbrook. I've posted up my notes which include some interesting pointers that might be of some interest to people. See here:
Andy Brown
2009-01-13 08:52:15

The core piece of the rotating beating heart and the quality it is rendered is what stands out to me here, the typography feels mildly average at best.

You should showcase some of the interactive work by brilliant designer whale ( for the BHF instead.. here:
2009-01-13 09:12:07

It seems like he's just selected an arbitrary group of fonts he's designed an animated them to the voice-over. The animation isn't even that clever and the fonts don't seem to convey the same feeling as the words. Totally forgettable. In fact, it reminds me of the type of ill-conceived work I'd do in Macromedia Director as a student in the mid 90s. I used to like his work then. I just don't think he's moved on at all in the last ten years.
2009-01-13 09:16:26

@ RayTon

I don't think any of the comments here are 'slagging him off' or childish – they are honest comments and responses by oher designers.

And don't presume to know what clients and projects other designers invest their time in. I, for one, would like to think that the work I do for the charities that I work with is more considered and appropriate than the video above.
Ed Wright
2009-01-13 10:08:33

Maybe they should have used the legendary Len Cheesman instead. Here is his ident for New Zealand's TVNZ channel:
2009-01-13 21:29:02

I agree with Andy Brown in that the key to the advert is its pace.
Refreshing also, i think, to see a colour scheme not laden with the default heart-charity black/red.
It's informative, calm - and reflective of a very rational attitude taken by the charity.

Howeverrrrr, did it strike those heartstrings (aptly) we so often associate with charity-ads?
I think not.
Sam Fitzpatrick
2009-01-14 08:02:01

ed wright, my main point is you and a few of the earlier posters add nothing by writing 'i dont like it' and throwing petty insults at barnbrook. if you have a reason for your disapproval, try using my than one braincell and say why. have a bit of argument in your statement, let us know why you think this ad doesnt work, you know, think about the audience a bit rather than just yourself, because as the moment you just sound like an uneducated fool who seems more interested in slagging somebody off than anything else.

and by the way if you could put some work where your mouth is and put up a link to all this excellent charity work you have done i and i am sure a lot of other people would like to see it.
2009-01-15 10:29:44

Love Barnbrook's work. He's the one that influenced me enough to work in design. I will always have a soft spot for most of his work.

But.... I do not love this. The fades, the movements, the typeface choices, it all feels a little outdated. Maybe Barnbrook's style isn't complimentary to current design tastes? Maybe is was a rush job? I'm not sure!

The advert pace is good. For me, the beating heart is the best thing about the advert!
2009-01-15 17:13:45

I thought it was a Barnbrook rip off when I first saw it!
2009-01-16 14:27:39

Constructive criticism: The tone is flat and dry; the voice over is conventional and not compelling enough; the copy is pedestrian; and the typography, against the disturbing Virtual Heart Simulator, is incongruously fancy.

And I'm not sure who the woman, who appears at the end of the advert, is supposed to represent: a British Heart Foundation worker? Or a heart disease victim looking for someone to talk to?

I sense this ad was either designed by committee or influenced by focus groups. Pity.
Reality Check
2009-01-17 20:39:53

Obviously many of the people who posted here have not worked with charities or even know the area, its a very difficult field, they want to get maximum donations and its very difficult to get anything interesting past them. My work divides about 60/40 charity stuff and this ad is a bit of a revelation. I am not a fan of Barnbrook's work normally but there is just the right combination of heart animation and nice typography to stop it looking to cold, but minimal enough to still make it have some authority. The woman at the end makes sense for a bit of a human touch after all the type stuff that's gone on. Congratulations to Barnbrook, Grey (?) and the British Heart Foundation for their bravery in doing something which will stand out from the usual sterile medical stuff. I think its a great success.
Steven SV
2009-01-20 19:54:29

isn't this just a little old fashioned - the type styles are radically out of kilter with the emotive nature of the message, has master barnbrook just attended an animation for beginners course and thrown in some fades, maybe his hands were tied by a discourteous brief?
Lee Jay Keeper
2009-02-11 07:53:23

Does anyone know when this ad was aired?

Thanks :D
2010-04-06 14:24:22

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