You’re Dead, Jim: Priceline Kills Off Shatner’s “Negotiator”
Priceline is retiring William Shatner’s role as the Negotiator as it moves to turn consumer attention to its fixed-price hotel inventory.
For the past 14 years, Shatner has been the company’s celebrity spokesperson, and for the past five years he has played the role of the “Priceline Negotiator,” a James Bond-like character who stops at nothing to help people find the best travel deals. The latest ad is a cliff-hanger, with Shatner apparently blown to smithereens aboard a plunging bus after giving the escaping passengers some quick travel booking tips.
The Norwalk, Conn.-based company said Shatner will remain under contract, but it’s unclear what will happen to him after his last deal.
Priceline said it decided to kill off the Negotiator character in order to focus on its fixed-price hotel inventory, which is its fastest-growing segment. It will continue to offer its Name Your Own Price hotel service.
The hotel-booking industry is constantly getting more competitive, with several new players, including Kayak, Google and a hotel-backed search service called Room Key.
While Priceline’s future commercials are expected to explore the aftermath of the bus crash, we’ll see if it gets that far. Right after the new ad started airing, the American Bus Association asked Priceline to pull the ad because it “damages the reputation of our industry.” And as for Shatner — well, maybe he transported off the bus just in time, or there was a rift in the time-space continuum, or somehow he managed the kind of escape that kept James T. Kirk going through umpteen shows and movies. Or maybe not.
Priceline’s stock fell 56 cents today to close at $518 a share.
Here’s a look at the new commercial: