The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

It’s Better Oop North …

Ad blogging was once a rich, vibrant community.

It was amazing how much people looked out for each other.

A lot was driven by Russell Davies … but the effect of it was something pretty special.

I met a lot of people because of that community … some, still even come on here.


But when you compare it to the toxic, ego-filled bullshit of ad twitter … I can’t help but feel the blogging community was a much more valuable and positive resource for adland.

Especially if you were a junior.

While there are many positives of social media, learning the strategy discipline through 280 letter tweets is not really going to drive the craft forward.

Nowadays there seems to be only 2 people still blogging.

Martin and me.

Or said another way …

Nowadays, only Martin writes a blog that has real value and depth for the industry and discipline.

One of the people I am saddest at having stopped blogging is Andrew Hovells. Better known as Northern Planner.

I’ve written about him a lot in the past.

From how much I respect him to how much I liked trolling him by sending him to see Queen in concert, when he absolutely hates the band.

But I revisited his blog recently and there’s just so, so much amazing stuff on there.

Stuff for people curious about planning.
Stuff for people just starting planning.
Stuff for people having a career in planning.
Stuff for people leading work and teams in planning.
Stuff for every level and need in planning.

And while there are many other resources for this sort information on the internet, Northern Planner’s is especially good for 3 reasons:

1. It comes from someone who could have worked at pretty much any of the best agencies in London, but didn’t and instead chose to stay ‘oop North’ and bring the planning discipline to a part of England that [i] didn’t have it and [ii] needed a lot of convincing to see it’s value. Not only did he achieve that – and validate the discipline for more people in the region to become a part of it – his work gave the supposed London ‘superstars’ a run for their money.

[He also turned down coming to cynic, which still devastates me, because he would have made such a difference to us. But it also shows how smart he is. Unfortunately]

2. He doesn’t give you a process to follow, he gives you a way to look at the discipline and the roles within it. Meaning you’re developing your own planning style and voice … not regurgitating someone else’s.

3. All of it is free. Every last bit of it.

Given the amount of amateurs ‘flogging’ their questionable, superficial and inauthentic courses that don’t have the right to even be in the same universe – let alone industry – as Andrew’s generous, considered and carefully explained lessons and insights … I know who I recommend people spend their time learning from.

I really miss Northern and his blog.

But the planning community should be missing it even more.

20 Comments so far
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less shit than the rest of you planning fucks.

Comment by andy@cynic

not hard.

Comment by andy@cynic

Definitely not difficult.

Comment by Pete

Well said Robert. I agree with every word, especially the 3 facts about Northern.

Comment by George

Yep …

The amount of subscription-flogging from people who arguably have not done the work he has made or faced the challenges he has had to deal with is amazing.

And yet they get the fame when many are not worthy to even stand in his shadows.

Though they may like Queen, which could explain things, Ha.

Comment by Rob

This explains everything.

Comment by DH

Queen fans make bad planners?

Comment by Bazza

Anti-imposter planning.

Comment by Pete

Hahaha … that is such a good description.

Comment by Rob

When blogs were good.

Comment by John

As Andy said, not hard.

Comment by Rob

I only know Andrew through the commentary he occasionally made on here. It was enough for me to understand why he is held in such high regard by so many strategists. Come back Andrew.

Comment by Lee Hill

hes a shitshow but a better shitshow than this shitshow.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thank you Andrew.

Comment by George

what can i say, im just fucking generous.

Comment by andy@cynic

I wonder if northern likes his handjob from you?

Comment by DH

Erm, I don’t know what to say. I miss the golden days of blogging it was nice wasn’t it? I’ll forever be grateful to people like Rob that people who had no clue like me were given some direction through nothing more than kindness. Unlike people like Rob I just state the patently obvious, however since it seems the obvious is in short supply, thanks for the kick up the arse to maybe share more obviousness. By the way Rob, don’t think you get away with meeting me just once.

Comment by Northern

You know you’ve just let Rob think he is powerful and influential. But it is great to have you comment on here again.

Comment by Pete

Come back Northern. If only to add a new flavour of insult on here.

And you can be sure we’re meeting again. It may take 20 years but it will happen.

Comment by Rob

Absolutely. Such a smart guy, and a reminder that not all UK talent resides in the big smoke.

Update the examples and I bet his advice is every bit as accurate as it was 10-15 years ago.

It would be good to see some of the old planning blogger folk again, though it’s hard when we live in about 50 different cities and countries

Comment by Rob (The other one)

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