Carnival gives teen free cruise for his Snapchat handle

Now here’s a business model, kids: When you sign up on a new social-media app, make sure your handle is the name of a well-established company.

Play your cards right and you might get a Carnival cruise out of it.

In 2012, Darian Lipscomb did just that. That year, popular social-media site Snapchat was still in its infancy, and Darian, who was a fan of Carnival Cruise Line voyages, signed up with the handle @CarnivalCruise. He was just 9 years old at the time.

The appeal of Carnival was simple, Darian said in a video released by the cruise line: “I like their food and there’s a lot to do on the ship. At night time you can go and get ice cream.”

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Darian’s act of fanaticism got him the attention of Doral-based Carnival Cruise Line, which last month was hoping to use the handle in promotions for its new ship, Carnival Horizon, only to find the handle was already taken.

Credit: Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

Credit: Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

So Carnival took its proposition to the now 16-year-old.

According to the line, Carnival swept into Darian’s hometown of Prospect, Va. — population: about 2,000 — this week. It set up mobile billboards and signs across town featuring former basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, who these days is Carnival’s “Chief Fun Officer,” with messages including: “@CarnivalCruise … really wish we took that one, Darian.”

One sign on a truck read, “Hey Prospect, do you know Darian?”

Then late last month, Carnival surprised Darian at home, hoping to make the case for why the teenager, who has already sailed on four Carnival trips, should hand over his handle.

Their offer: Darian, his mother, stepfather, and brother would be the first on the maiden voyage for the new Carnival Horizon, sailing out of Barcelona on Monday. The trip would include flights to Spain, leaving Saturday, hotels and some surprises along the way.

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Total cost? $5,000.

Not bad for a Snapchat handle.

Naturally, Darian’s journey will be documented via Carnival’s newly acquired Snapchat name. Darian, meanwhile, is in the market for a new handle.

“I’ll have to think up another name,” he told The Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Maybe another company name.”

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