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The 1960s is the most important decade in the history of Martins Bank.  Four hundred years after the establishment of a banking business at the sign of the Grasshopper in Lombard Street, the Bank has come a long way.  The decade that begins with the Berlin Wall and ends with a man on the moon sees huge advances in technology that will change the gentle ways of banking forever – Computers allow the manipulation of information and the streamlining of services.  The CASH MACHINE arrives and, sadly for some people, the era of competition for custom begins to take on its now familiar cut-throat approach.Advertising is therefore crucial to the success of the organisation, and Martins suddenly seems to find its true identity in the 1960s, with a series 1963 Beryl PublicityShot for Promotion to Asst Mgr Advertising - Beryl Creer MBA.jpgof novel, clever, and sometimes groundbreaking campaigns which show that this particular very old bank, is still very much young at heart.  The traditionally staid and middle class newspaper and magazine adverts are soon transformed to eye-catching copy that shows how the Bank is in tune with young people, and before the end of the 1960s, Martins will be the FIRST bank to advertise on television in England. Key to the success of this decade of innovative ads is the historic appointment in 1963 of BERYL EVANS to the role of Assistant Manager, Advertising Department. 

Using images (many of which are from Beryl’s personal archive), we will look at the legacy of her work, but our look at Martins’ 1960s advertising begins in 1961, where we find two campaigns with the same theme, but quite  different aims.   The purpose of the first one is to recruit new female staff to the Bank – we are still at a point in employment history where women are treated as second class citizens.  They must leave work when pregnant, and give up their career, however promising.  Equal pay actually does exist in Martins up to a certain age, and then male salaries soar up and away through the glass ceiling, leaving the women, the majority of whom work as hard if not harder than their male counterparts, earning peanuts:

Calling nice people, everywhere…

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1961 Nicest People wide“The Nicest People” (image © Barclays) shows us an ordinary girl who is lucky enough to have landed a job at Martins Bank, and what is refreshing here, is that although the ad is aimed at female staff, there is no attempt to paint a glamorous picture either of bank work, or bank employees themselves.  The advertisement is straightforward and states only facts, right down to the pay being “quite good” (it was actually quite bad).  The wording of the advert can also be adjusted for each region of the bank, so that nice people everywhere get the chance to work at Martins Bank. See also A CAREER WITH MARTINS BANK

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Your average kind of bloke…

Our second campaign is aimed at attracting students to the Bank.  Martins is amongst the first to recognise and pioneer the opening of branches on campus at British universities.  A lot of work goes into pricing up what it is worth spending now on attracting student business, compared to what the return will be once the student has graduated into a highly paid job, and can start paying for their banking services.

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My Bank's Martins.jpg“My Bank’s Martins” appeals to your average 1961 student, again with a no nonsense advertisement that does exactly what it says on the tin – student banking couldn’t be simpler, and you can’t find a better bank than Martins to help you make sense of the money.  (Oh to be back in the days when students were paid to go to university… Or perhaps not.) Students are the high earners of the future, and the competition amongst the clearing Banks to open branches on or near the next and newest in Britain’s burgeoning portfolio of universities is acute. This is illustrated by the story of Martins’ Branch at Lancaster University, told in our STUDENT BANKING feature.

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The World is your market…

In 1963 Martins Bank’s information Department is in full flow, publishing guides, lists, answering endless queries and correspondence about banking facilities in other countries, and providing a number of successful guides for farmers, exporters and those wishing to start a business in Britain.  These are covered separately in our INFORMATION DEPARTMENT feature.  One of the most popular guides is “The World Is Your Market” and it is interesting to note that it warrants its own newspaper advertising. With Britain still able to manufacture and export a wide variety of goods, Martins is keen to be of service by providing advice and paid for services to those existing and new exporters.  The expertise of the Bank is seen as a valuable commodity in its own right, and another key market for Martins Bank is Agriculture.  The bank has branches at a large number of Auction Marts and Cattle Markets in England and Wales, and the main weapon in its armoury is the annual publication – “Finance for Farmers and Growers:

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Finance for Farmers and Growers…

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From 1955 until the 1980s, FINANCE FOR FARMERS AND GROWERS is a hit publication.  The advertising message is suitably underplayed, and the real meat of this annual booklet is found in details of just about everything a Farmer or Grower will need to help them succeed.  The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food works closely with the Advertising and Information Departments of Martins Bank to supply up to date details of agricultural finance available, and the latest effects of changes in taxation and allowances are provided, and clearly set out. 

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For many years, Finance for Farmers and Growers is edited by Beryl Evans’ husband, Ray Creer, who is also Manager of the Bank’s Southport Ainsdale Branch.  As each edition of the booklet builds on the last, the back copies become a useful historical record of how agriculture in Britain is run and regulated from the mid 1950s onwards.  No advertising is allowed within the pages of this publication, save for two standard ads for the Bank itself, within or near to the inside front and back covers

This selection of advertisements from Finance for Farmers and Growers shows a simple approach, but a strong message which includes two tag lines that continue in other Martins advertisements in the early to mid 1960s:  “My Bank’s Martins” and “I’m Glad I use Martins Bank”.  (The young man clutching a pig will appear later in this feature, in a variation to this original 1963 copy).  Each edition of the booklet starts with a “typical farmer”, and ends with a reminder of Martins’ other strong connection to agriculture, the fleet of MOBILE BRANCHES that visits more than eighty shows and events throughout Britain every year:

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Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections


We’re glad we use Martins Bank…


 It’s not all about Farmers and Growers – Businessmen and “career chaps and gals” all over the country can also enjoy what the Bank has to offer.  The “I’m glad I use Martins Bank” campaign has these people firmly in its sights, so that the newly employed can be shown the benefits of a Bank that understands them, and have their wages or salaries paid into the bank. Business people will appreciate the convenience of having a “local bank”, with staff and managers that know and understand them and their business needs. They can also take comfort from the fact that Martins has decentralised District Head Offices – no waiting around for decisions on those tricky business propositions, someone to take you seriously, and of course a friendly service to all.  This idea is revisited in the 1990s by Barclays who set up Local Business Centres in larger branches.

1960-63 Campaigns – “ordinary” people…

A parade of “ordinary people” arrives in the early sixties to highlight and serve the everyday financial needs of the “average” person…

Advantage, Martins…

It was always going to be an advantage for any bank to have a branch at the centre court at Wimbledon, and Martins Bank doesn’t disappoint.  You can see the branch shortly after Barclays has re-branded it on our branch page for WIMBLEDON CENTRE COURT. This advertisement (right) runs for nearly ten years, right up to the Barclays takeover.  

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections


Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

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All in all, the Bank’s Advertising campaigns of the early 1960s break new ground in attracting new business from people in all walks of life, and also recruiting the kind of staff who will later go to extremes to be helpful.  By the mid 1960s this policy has gone further, with the idea that “ordinary people” should be able to have a bank account.  The theme of the 1965 campaign is that whether “ordinary people” work rest or play, Martins Bank can help them with a bank account, and tailor made advice for their own particular situation…

1965/6 Campaign – some more “ordinary” people…

Images © Martins Bank Archive Collections

The fact that you only need to look at the picture and a couple of words to know exactly what the advert is about is typical of Martins’ new approach to advertising.  The 1950s image of a stagecoach outside an old tavern struggles, in comparison, to get its message across. The swinging sixties gives Martins the opportunity to cash in on the youth market. 

‘Counting up’ is one of a number of newspaper advertisements in the Autumn of 1965 that are aimed at what Martins refers to as ‘the wage earner’. ‘Going Away’ takes every opportunity to sell the bank’s overseas services to non-business customers, providing solutions that enable you to travel abroad confident in the knowledge that you have both access to and control over your money.

In the days before the cash machine, this is not an easy task, and exchange controls make things even more difficult. ‘I’m saving up’ appeals to the younger saver.  Many of Martins 750 branches are situated in agricultural areas.  The Bank is heavily involved in local events from flower shows to agricultural events where invariably one of Martins’ fleet of MOBILE BRANCHES will pitch up to offer service and advice.  ‘It can be a Pig of a Problem’ highlights farmers’ uneven cash flow and the bank offers further help and advice through its free booklet ‘Finance for farmers and growers’, one of the most popular product publications in Martins’ history.

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It’s a JUNGLE out there!

Images © Martins Bank Archive Collections and Barclays

These iconic and innovative ads are an instant hit for Martins, between 1966 and 1969.  You can read about the little girl who got to work with an elephant AND a camel in our special advertising feature: ANIMALS AND CHILDREN.  This particular advertisement is copied in real life, when a Yorkshire zoo takes Martins at their word, and takes an elephant and small girl to YORK branch to open an account! The Zebra, who is the friend of the student seeking banking advice, is called Socrates. Penelope the Hippo is the focus of the worried looking man, who wants to leave her everything in his will (!), and as for the cows, well they seem to be sealing some kind of deal at the bank counter. The chickens are a dab hand (or should that be CLAW) at helping with the paperwork. Arnold the Seal is happy to be out of water, and Percy the Wallaby is helpfully carrying his mistress’s banking bag.  Just how psychedelic WERE those 1960s???

1968/9 Martinplanning gives you the key, and thrifty children are a bonus!



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It’s the end of the sixties, and the lady sitting on the car above is being encouraged, to SAVE, not borrow, in order to buy the car of her dreams.  Saving  throughout the year enables the family above (right) to afford Christmas and more, and the two girls on the right use Martinplanning to have a great holiday, and cash to spare.  In the twenty-first century we are constanly being channelled towards more and more debt – how refreshing then to find a bank that openly and vigorously promotes living within your means!  Whilst parents are urged to SAVE for the things they want, this model of thrift is also drummed into their children through the new GRASSHOPPER SAVINGS ACCOUNT.  In the 1970s the rise in competition between banks for their customers’ money leads inevitably to the need to grab the customer’s attention, no matter what.  What were once seen as institutions that sold SERVICE, must rapidly become shops for financial products.  Of course none of us knows at this stage that it will all come crashing down and that people’s trust in their Bank will all but evaporate under scandal after scandal…  Besides in-branch promotional materials, the main campaign ground in 1968 is still newspaper and magazine advertising, although some banks do venture on to Television despite the distaste for this medium often shown by the stuffier banks.  What makes Martins’ 1960s advertising stand out is the fact that the Bank is not afraid to match the mood, look and feel of the Swinging Sixties.  The concept of Martinplanning buys into the idea of the “must have” generation, and then turns it on its head – not live now pay later, but SAVE now, BUY later.

This is precisely the kind of genius marketing that British banks could do with today, reversing the decades-long trend of living on credit… Whilst the Martinplanning campaign is in full swing – helped in no small measure by cartoons and characters from national treasure of the day, artist Bill Tidy – Martins’ savings plans are on the march in other areas, too:  The humble home safe money box is about to undergo a revolution, with the introduction of the short-lived but much loved Grasshopper Money Box. You can read more about this on our CHILDREN’S SAVINGS page.

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Selling a takeover…

By 1969 the use by both banks of similar fonts and less subtle devices such as “a member of the Barclays Group” heralds the Barclays takeover, and the end of a brand, as the grasshopper gives way to the spread eagle. Although Martins Branches do not change until December 1969, the Bank has been owned by Barclays since November 1968, and appears in Barclays’ audited accounts as a subsidiary company.  You can read much more about some of the more subtle ways in which the name of Martins manages to continue afterwards, in our major feature BEGINNING OF THE END , which looks in depth at the merger of Barclays and Martins…