The Priceline Negotiator character, played by Star Trek legend William Shatner, had to die.
But, who killed him?
The evil Booking.com.
The Priceline Negotiator pitched the wonders of Priceline’s Name Your Own Price bidding service in which hotels offer steep discounts, but consumers don’t find out the name of the hotel until after their bid is accepted.
And Shatner as The Negotiator, using his persuasive powers and brute force to wrangle those hotel discounts, had a five-year run in that role.
But, now Priceline has killed The Negotiator in the following video, slated to debut on TV next week:
The Negotiator rescues stranded vacationers on a bus dangling over a bridge and says to them, just before the bus plunges and presumably kills him in an incendiary crash: “You don’t have to bid. At Priceline you choose from thousands of hotels every day. Save yourself — some money.”
You can still bid, of course, as Name Your Own Price remains in place, but Priceline’s published-rate hotel service has tripled in size to more than 200,000 properties in 140-plus countries, says Priceline’s non-celebrity spokesman, Brian Ek.
Yes, Priceline bought Bookings B.V. in 2005 and Booking.com, along with Agoda, have fueled the parent company’s growth to the point that its market cap currently stands at $26 billion.
Indeed, Booking.com and its retail model has killed The Negotiator.
No need to negotiate if you can get a good deal with published rates — or at least that is one of the new messages.
Speaking of the published-rate model and the demise of the Negotiator, Ek says “we’d like a whole lot more people to know about this side of the business than currently do.
“We put our heads together with the advertising agency — Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners (who created The Negotiator character) — and they suggested we consider doing something over the top with the 2012 campaign to grab people’s attention and make sure nobody misses the message.”
Sadly, the timing may not be right for Priceline Negotiator’s Last Deal video given the parallels to the Costa Concordia tragedy.
The idea of an authority figure saving vacationers may be a little raw right now. (Shatner seems in charge, although the bus driver exits with the passengers.) At least The Negotiator went down with the bus.
Shatner, who has been Priceline’s celebrity spokesman for 14 years, remains under contract, but it’s unclear what future role he will play with with company, if any.
The Last Deal spot will be followed by a series of others, featuring interviews with some of the “survivors” of the fictional bus tragedy, Ek says.