For the last 14 years, William Shatner has served as spokesman, and overacted for the last five years as the "Priceline Negotiator" in the advertising for the discount travel site.
His character has become a cultural icon and helped elevate recognition of the brand as a discount-price bidding system for hotel bookings.
But now, Priceline wants to focus on a broader strategy beyond negotiated bidding, and that means Shatner's character must go. The brand needs to find a way to shift focus from what it has deeply impeded in consumer's minds, and give people a different reason to care about it.
The first step to brand rejuvenation? The Priceline Negotiator must meet a fiery death--advertising style.
Shatner’s final ads for the company will see him attempt to save vacationers as a bus comes dangerously close to falling from a bridge. Before the end, Shatner continues to attempt to advise customers on how to get reduced prices. “Save yourself –some money,” Shatner says before he meets his apparent end on the bus. The ad is in-character for both The Negotiator, and for Shatner's own acting style known for his over-the-top delivery. The octogenarian (he turned 80 last March) perfected overacting throughout his lengthy career--from his character as Captain Kirk on Star Trek to his portrayal of T.J. Hooker and Denny Crane on Boston Legal. Yep, he knows how to milk a line and steal even the most mundane scene.
But it is just that ability to draw attention to himself that has nesessitated the transformation of Priceline's "The Negotiator" to become yesterday's newspaper as it shifts from a name-your-price model to a fixed-price approach.
Yep, Shatner's Negotiator was just too good at representing the old approach.
“The challenge is harder to get people’s attention than it used to be. … So we decided to do something really over the top to get the message across,” Priceline CEO Christoper Soder told the AP.
All parties have left a Shatner return a viable possibility--perhaps in the same way Jack, the Jack in the Box clown, returned after his own fiery explosion in 1980.
Ah, the magic of Hollywood.