Darian Lipscomb, 15, from Prospect, Virginia was hunted down by Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) (see video below). Carnival wanted Lipscomb’s Snapchat handle @CarnivalCruise, and they wanted it REAL bad. How bad? Bad enough they could have filed a lawsuit.
Prospect’s Lipscomb could be called a gold prospector, but in tech terms he is a “Social Media Squatter”. These things usually end really bad.
In LaRussa v. Twitter, Tony LaRussa, a well-known baseball manager who managed the St. Louis Cardinals, sued an unknown party for registering a user name on Twitter using Tony LaRussa’s name and making comments about the Cardinals players that were in poor taste. LaRussa claimed trademark infringement, cybersquatting, and violation of the right of publicity. However, the case settled shortly after the complaint was filed, the user name was disabled, and Twitter transferred the domain name to LaRussa.
No matter the label, prospector Lipscomb has struck a gold vein in the CCL stream. Carnival took the high road with this social media squatter and took a potentially negative press event and turned it into a positive focal point in a new cruise ship launch advertising campaign. It was a brilliant public relations coup.
The company bombarded his home town with signs asking “Hey Prospect, does anyone know Darian?” They also had a mobile billboard plastered on a truck , which they drove around the town in Prince Edward county.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the company offered to trade Lipscomb a free trip for his family aboard its newest ship, Carnival Horizon, in exchange for his Snapchat handle. The net worth of the trip is about $5,000. Alright, maybe not the best accommodations in the house, assuming a family of four with taxes and all, but not too shabby for a squatter.
Organizers say Lipscomb will receive customized surprises throughout the trip, which will be documented on the cruise’s social channels.
Prospect, Virginia – New Claim To Fame
How big was the town they “bombarded” with a truck and signs? Prospect is an unincorporated community in Prince Edward County, Virginia in the United States of America. The 2016 Best Places in America website says, “Prospect (zip 23960), Virginia, population is 1,840. There are 43 people per square mile.” In other words, to a city slicker it’s bordering communities which could be nicknamed, “nowhere” and “anywhere but here”.
According to Wikipedia, in their 78 word page for the town, their only claim to fame is, “It was a stop on the Southside Railroad in the mid-nineteenth Century. This became the Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad in 1870. Then, it was a line in the Norfolk and Western Railway and now the Norfolk Southern Railway. The rail line from Burkville to Pamplin City, the stop after Prospect, was converted by Virginia Department of Parks and Recreation into High Bridge Trail State Park.”
Those archaic but charming historical facts aside, Prospect has 168 companies in various industries (one for every 10.95 residents), including Noah’s Last Stop located at 5865 Prince Edward Highway and TheCatalpa Inn located at 373 Catalpa Lane. The town has 20 churches for their 1,840 residents (1 church forevery 92 residents), making religion the #1 (non-profit) industry in town.
It would be a safe bet to say the town has nearly no unemployment. Not many towns can claim that statistical fact. But, other towns also can’t say a Fortune 500 company sent a team to find one backwoods kid to hand over his infringing intellectual property, over-valued at $5000, in exchange for a few minutes in the spotlight and a new claim to fame for the town, beyond the meager content Wikipedia currently has on their website.
According to the CCL website, “in 2016, Carnival Corporation’s revenue totaled $16.4 billion (U.S. dollars), which would put the company in the top 200 on the Fortune 500 list.” Kudos to Carnival for resisting corporate intellectual rights thuggery, which would have been a public relations nightmare.
So, after decades of obscurity, Carnival Corporation and Darian Lipscomb just put Prospect, Virginia on the map. I see t-shirts, bumper stickers and maybe a new website in Prospector Lipscomb’s future.
Watch this space, this story is far from over.
- Wikipedia – Prospect, Virginia
- Best Places – 2016 Prospect (zip 23960)
- Carnival Corp – Company Information
- Social Media Squatters
- Brand Enforcement on Social Networking Sites
- Live Cruise Ship Tracker
Video: Carnival Offers 15-Year-Old Free Cruise for Snapchat Handle