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‘Me Walls’ and Vanity License Plates Reflect Personal Brands

Having a active presence on the latest social platforms is the main focus for many self-promoters. But ‘me walls’ and vanity license plates have been around far longer than Facebook posts and Twitter handles. They offer creative personal branding options for car owners and execs with corner offices.

‘Me walls’ “display photos of a person posing with President X or foreign leader Y,” according to Mark Leibovich, author of the recent best seller, This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral – Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking in America’s Gilded Capital. He was referring to the decorated office walls of Washington D.C.’s power players, but the term also applies to the corner offices at PR firms, corporations, sports agencies and Hollywood studios.

For top-level executives who aren’t stuck in cubicles, floor-to-ceiling exhibits include impressiive photos, exotic travel souvenirs and trophy cases. ‘Me walls’ offer a chance to show off one’s accomplishments and high profile contacts in a personalized setting. They’re the visual equivalent of name-dropping, also serving as conversation-starters for visitors. Since scandals can arise at any time, rotating displays are preferable. Photos of David Petraeus and Lance Armstrong were likely replaced this year, for example.

Vanity license plates: Car owners willing to pay the Department of Motor Vehicles an extra fee have the opportunity to convey their essence in fewer than ten characters. Back in New York, while wandering around locally, we spotted some catchy career-related plates. These may belong to editors, pr execs, techies, financial speculators or sports enthusiasts: MR EDIT, SPYNDOC, RISK MAN, SURFR GRL.

As with digital platforms, when making your individual statement it’s best to tread carefully. Some car owners with attention-getting plates have ended up as law enforcement targets, like the NFL player driving a Bentley with the plate ‘SAUCED’. However, most car owners with vanity plates display clever or aspiring messages, such as KUMBAYA, OPNN8ED, and O2BNLA. It’s interesting to see how well the messages on the plates match the brands of cars they’re driving, such as IF NOT NOW on a Jaguar.

One of our favorite displays was the vintage hood ornament (below) on a car from Connecticut. Clearly that figure should also appear on a ‘me wall’.

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