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Balance 1950

Stylish – and unusual – animated short

Sponsored film 1951 8 mins Silent


This is more fun than a company balance sheet has any right to be, thanks to its droll wit and stylish animated infographix. A visual précis of the annual report of chemicals giant ICI, the film was made for screening to shareholders and staff. But it went viral, '50s style: so good it became popular with general viewers. The ‘dismal science’ of economics has rarely been taught with such panache.

Beneath the friendly charm, some might argue, lies an artful and shrewd justification of profit margins. Whatever, The Balance 1950 was ahead of its time: in its day, it was an exciting novelty but today’s big corporates frequently use animated digital video for ‘executive summary’ purposes online. Produced for ICI by Larkins Studio (a leading specialist producer of ‘industrial animation’), it uses cutting-edge stylised linear visuals to illustrate a knowingly groansome rhyming commentary: ‘fivers’/’drivers’, ‘depreciation’/’explanation’, ‘second rater’/’fifteen years later’…