COMMENT: Why “North Londonshire” is an insulting term for Northamptonshire

The Grand Union Canal passes through the county of Northamptonshire at Braunston

We are unfortunate enough to live in an era where negative campaigning and anti-journalism gets results. In the internet age of information overload, companies and newspapers are prepared to cause outrage to attract your attention. Yet this is nothing new: the phrase “all publicity is good publicity” goes back to to the nineteenth century showman P.T Barnum. And the marketing team behind a recent attempt to “rebrand” the county of Northamptonshire may have had this slogan in mind.

The North Northants Development Corporation this week announced it is embarking on a £1.2 million advertising campaign to attract people and business from the capital city London. And in order to achieve this admirable aim, it has chosen to rename North Northamptonshire as…”North Londonshire”.

So from now until 2012, London Underground will be plastered with adverts alongside a radio ad-campaign which will urge city-dwellers to leave London and move to “North Londonshire”. Yet this was news to members of Northamptonshire County Council, a number of whom informed the media this week that they were unaware of the impending advertising campaign until the day before it was announced.

According to the Northampton Chronicle, deputy council leader Councillor Joan Kirkbride said: “Northamptonshire is a unique place and somewhere we need to be proud of, so we need to stop this nonsense saying it’s a suburb of London. We know what we want to be, we’re Northamptonshire and we want to remain Northamptonshire.” This was echoed by council cabinet member Andrew Langley who was angry that taxyapers will foot the bill. “To hear my county referred to as North Londonshire at taxpayer’s expense makes me livid.”

60 miles away, separated by two counties

We at Caravan Times are not bereft of a sense of humour. The audacity of renaming an English county in official marketing literature is guaranteed to cause mirth and laughter. And this is precisely what the makers intended. If people are laughing about you and poking fun, then no matter. The most important thing to PR people is that they are talking about your client.

They may find however that the joke has already backfired. Council members are (oddly enough) useful allies when promoting a region, and their anger at being kept in the dark has led to negative publicity in newspapers. Already local residents have been reported as hostile to the potential influx of Londoners. But what seems to grate above all is the desperation of the idea in the first place.

Northamptonshire is ninety miles away from London. The region is only seperated from the capital by…two entire counties. Bedfordshire and Hertforshire may seem like irrelevancies to makers of the campaign, but its residents will chuckle heartily when hearing how much “closer” to London their neighbour is considered. On this basis, can we expect Somerset to be renamed “West Londonshire” to attract the Notting Hill set?

A county with a proud history

With today’s internet marketing techniques, getting people to notice you is easily done. Yet in seeking an instant impact many have gone too far and are noticed for the wrong reasons. The firm gave this statement: “There are few effective marketing campaigns that don’t spark some debate along the way and generate significant discussion as a result.”

If “generating discussion” is the only aim, then perhaps they will have succeeded: an impressive number of articles have sprung up online. But insulting an entire county has not helped answer the main question behind the campaign: why move to Northamptonshire?

On the front page of the website for “North Londonshire” the company boasts of North Northamptonshire as “the biggest single growth area outside London” which will see “52,100 new homes” and “47,400” new jobs”. These alone are not reasons to come to Northamptonshire: the authors appear to have missed the point.

Northamptonshire is perfect for outdoor lovers with over 40 designated fishing areas and a host of waterways. From white water rafting at the Nene White Water Centre to jet-skiing at the Billing Aquadrome there are thrills-a-minute to be had. And no visit is complete without a cruise at Stoke Bruerne on a narrowboat which takes you through the 400-year old Blisworth Tunnel. Away from the waterways, one of the oldest Anglo-Saxon Churches in England can be found at Brixworth, while many will have already visited Rockingham Castle.

It is a shame that the “North Londonshire” campaign has in its eagerness to engage Londoners overlooked the history and majesty of this proud county. The British public are more intelligent than the viewpoint summed up by another of P.T Barnum’s adages: “There’s a sucker born every minute”.

Explore Related Content