Friday, January 08, 2010

What’s More Annoying Than A Name Dropper? A Place Dropper

The Annoying Use Of “Dropping” As A Self-Branding Technique

Let’s face it, nobody likes a name dropper. These people have been around since the beginning of time and they’ve always been a nuisance. The good news is that most of us are quick to spot name droppers and to call them out on it. Sometimes we do it to their faces: “Do you have to mention how you and Steve Jobs go way back every time someone pulls out an iphone?” And even if we are too polite to embarrass them in public, we never forfeit an opportunity to ridicule these idiots behind their backs.

However, I’m struck by the fact that we too often let other “Droppers” off the hook. These individuals can be just as grating, but for some reason we put up with their blatant attempts to impress us. Like Name Droppers, these folks are opportunistic, and none-too-subtle in seeking opportunities to remind us of the places they’ve gone, the things they’ve seen, the degrees they’ve attained, and so on.

In fairness, Dropping is just another form of self-branding, a practice that is thriving these days. It used to be that only celebrities were interested in cultivating their personal brand by creating just the right image for themselves in the minds of consumers. The goal was to become more admired and revered for their unique talents and thus more attractive to advertisers, movie producers, record executives and the buying public.

But these days, everyone from CEO’s to college students are in the business of self-branding. Whether the objective is to enhance one’s corporate reputation or land the next job interview, business is booming. Armies of Image Consultants and Executive Coaches have emerged to inform us that an impressive Linkedin profile and clever tweets are now of critical importance in this brand building exercise. Other critical factors range from the jeans you wear to your hair style to even the smart phone you carry. It all matters. And Dropping is viewed as just another handy tool for reminding people that you are worthy, based on where you’ve been, what you consume and even where you work out.

Despite its many justifications, the practice of Dropping still annoys me. It lacks genuineness and forces us all into a sorry game of one-ups-man-ship that ruins social interactions. In order to put a stop to this growing phenomenon immediately, I have compiled a list of offenders described below. My hope is that from now on, these Droppers will be flogged every time they cross-the-line. I urge you to join me in ending this plague, in cleaning up our Facebook News Feeds, and in making conversation civil again.

The Lamont’s List Of Offensive Droppers

Place Droppers – These jetsetters never pass up a chance to remind us of all the places they’ve visited. Mention rice and they’ll say that you’ve reminded them of “that time when they were in Hong Kong”. If it’s a tad chili outside, they’ll tell you that’s nothing compared to that winter they spent in Moscow. Joberg has the best clubs, Japan the best Denim, London the tastiest Indian food, etc, etc, There is nothing you can mention that won’t be met with a story about a trip to an exotic destination. Stop it.

School Droppers – Have you ever met anyone who went to a “small liberal arts school outside of Boston?” Aren’t they fun to hang out with? At least the Harvard guys try to be subtle about it. My wife is lovely, but she is kind of a blatant school dropper. Within 10 minutes of meeting her she somehow manages to work in the fact that she went to Wharton. If she’s not in the mood for waiting for an opening, she’ll randomly bring up cheese steaks, just to bring the conversation around to Philadelphia and ultimately to, you guessed it…Wharton.

Festival Droppers – Why does attending a sweaty rock music festival make people feel so good about themselves that they have to constantly rub it in your face? The next time some skinny jeans wearing moron interrupts my enjoyment of a song to point out that “these dudes totally killed it at South By South West,” he’s gonna get decked. Related to:
  • Obscure Band Name Droppers – I swear these guys make up band names when I ask them who they are listening to, just to make me feel out of touch.
  • Obscure Underground Mix Tape Droppers – No as a matter of fact, I haven’t heard Lil Wayne’s “The Block Is Hot Volume 99”. Yes, I am aware that it’s been out for 2 whole days on What can I say; I’m a sad excuse for a hip hop fan.
Previous Employer Droppers – I’ve been told that I’m guilty of this offense myself (maybe I’ve mentioned once or twice that I was a brand manager at Coke) so I will go easy on this group. You know the types however, who used to work for cool companies or important brands. They rely heavily on this ancient experience to build their credibility in new work environments. It goes a little something like this: “Well, when I was at Coke/Nike/P&G/Target/NASA/etc., this is how we did things.” Related to:
  • Previous Agency Droppers – Exclusive to the advertising industry, these individuals, who for whatever reason now work at less glamorous agencies, feel compelled to let us know that they used to work at Crispin.
  • Previous Client Droppers – Along the same lines, these madmen who now work on lame accounts (say Dr. Scholl’s Foot Powder), feel compelled to drone on about those edgy campaigns they use to do for Nike.
Book Droppers – There is a long history of pretentiousness with this bunch. Seriously, there must be at least 1 movie that is better than the book right? And yes, it’s impressive, but don’t you have to have a bit too much time on your hands to be able to consume every important work of fiction and every business book on the NY Times Best Sellers list? And finally, stop hating on Dan Brown and John Grisham. Not all pop novels suck (The Firm is a classic). Not all of us can pretend to love Tolstoy. Related to:
  • Newspaper/Magazine/Blog Droppers – These are the showoffs who make us feel bad by constantly referencing high brow publications such as “The Economist” and “The Harvard Business Review”. They also inhale all major news sources by 8AM everyday so that they can quote from them condescendingly in meetings with our bosses while shaking their heads in disgust at us for being clueless slackers.
Green Droppers – These are the crunchy types who gloat about how much money they are saving on gas in their hybrid cars. It’s one thing to frown upon SUV’s, but it’s wholly unacceptable to give me dirty looks for drinking bottled water and wearing leather shoes. Step off. Related to:
  • Gym/Workout Droppers – These guys always seem to mention their 5AM Boot Camp class just as I am about to bite into a cheeseburger.
Neighborhood Droppers – Whether Tribeca, Cobble Hill or Montclair, NJ, these references by yuppies with too much money are always nauseating. It’s not enough for your neighborhood to be expensive; it also has to be super hip. Related to:
  • Vacation Home Droppers – The Hamptons, the Vineyard and The Cape are ok, but the International locales take it to another level
  • Club Droppers – These party-goers frequent fab night spots we’ve never heard of and pay $25 for drinks just so they can complain about it to us the next day.
  • Restaurant Droppers – These foodies love to bang on about how Chef So And So’s New-American-Asian-Fusion dishes have become more innovative since moving to restaurant bla bla bla. Whatever. I don’t care.
  • Kid’s Private School Droppers – Good for your boy that he made the fencing squad at Super Rich Prep. But that’s not really relevant to the discussion we are having right now is it?
  • Golf Course Droppers – No man who has ever played Pebble Beach or Beth Page Black or any other PGA course can resist the temptation to let us know about this uninteresting fact.
Twitter Droppers – I don’t even know why anyone would think people would be impressed by this. But people who are on Twitter just love to talk about the crap they talk about on Twitter.

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