William Shatner’s “Negotiator” Priceline Commercials: A Rant

shatner.jpgHere’s a classic example of brilliant advertising creative executed horribly online. According to MediaPost:

Priceline.com has changed the way it uses spokesman William Shatner in its ads; rather than playing himself, he has morphed into the character of chief negotiating officer.

Here’s a memo to the Priceline folks:

  • First, ingenious idea to have Shatner in character. Your creative agency is doing its job. It made MediaPost “Out to Launch” Editor Amy Corr laugh outloud. Me too.
  • The ads are funny, retro and reinforce the value proposition of Priceline. It’s your negotiator. It wants you to save money even more than you do.

Now the problem… this whole thing manifests itself horribly online.

Ugh. This doesn’t need to be so complicated. When the agency finishes the shoot, they hire an online specialist. Here are a few things a good interactive agency of record might have done:

  1. Forget paying the agency $500K (a guess) to over-engineer a campaign micro site that is user hostile. There’s a reason YouTube’s hot. It’s quite easy to find and play videos.
  2. Upload the videos on all of the video sites. Don’t wait until people do that for you. Otherwise you’ll find spoofs that get more traffic than your videos. They’ll be there whether you like it or not, but don’t rely on them. Use a cool username like “PricelineNegotiator” not something stupid where you’re pretending to be a regular consumer.
  3. Create a simple web page with a unique URL (PricelineNegotiator.com) and embed the videos on that site. That will take about 10 minutes and $50. Park a few more domains like ShatnerNegotiator, PricelineShatnerNegotiator, etc., and have them redirect to the main site. This will help ensure that Google searches take people to a site Priceline controls instead of to the video some guy uploaded to YouTube. Too late for this because as I type I can feel someone parking those URLs.
  4. Link to this campaign page with a callout on Priceline’s homepage. But with text not an image. If you must use an image because the designers are too vogue for text, at least“image-tag” it so the first words are Shatner, Priceline, Negotiator, Television, Advertisement. That will help secure high organic listings on Google & Yahoo. Remember that Google places much more emphasis on those first words of an image tag.
  5. Improve that paid search campaign. You may be wasting money buying text ads against “Shatner” (at least the text ads are customized to the campaign). Even if those have a low CPC, you’re neglecting to buy terms like “Priceline advertisement” or “Shatner commercial.”
  6. Develop the campaign more online. Give the Negotiator a MySpace account. Shoot some extra video for online only. Build some buzz. Put some online media dollars against it. Do some online outreach to blogs, discussion boards, etc.
  7. Create a YouTube identity and have someone respond to the community as Shatner’s character might. Don’t pretend you’re really Shatner. We know better. But give the persona an online presence.

What makes this so unforgivable is that Priceline is an online entity and this whole thing is missing a lot of new media basics. By the way- my criticism here is totally from the sidelines. I don’t know any of the agencies involved, and I have a day job so I’m not trying to get work.

MediaPost reports  that Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners created the campaign, and Ocean Media handled the media buy. I’d never heard of either of these, so I Googled the former- it’s BSSP.com. They have a division that does web stuff called SFInteractive. I’d be willing to bet that someone at SFI knows all this stuff, but the two divisions didn’t collaborate effectively. Or that everyone decided the online stuff would be “phase 2,” which you can’t do anymore. In fairness, this is complete speculation.

Why am I burnt about this? Because many companies are consolidating and making offline agencies do online work. But the traditional agencies are still woefully behind on a medium that’s almost a decade old. And even if they have the online talent in another division, it’s often untapped.

15 Replies to “William Shatner’s “Negotiator” Priceline Commercials: A Rant”

  1. 1. Great Rant; feels like something I would spout off about
    2. The URLs are still in the open (but I thought about buying them)
    3. To go even farther the amount of B roll they would have from the TV commercials would work really well online; and they clearly got permission from Shatner to use it online (as it is online today); You would be amazed how many forget to get that in the release); that said some actors scoff at putting this sort of thing online as the whole residual payment marketplace for TV does not exist on YouTube.

  2. Good entry, Kevin! I know that this is Priceline, but Shatner, himself, should know enough to maybe say something to the Priceline people about online marketing. I mean, he has his own LiveVideo account. He obviously sees the potential in online video.

    Hopefully they’re just getting off on a bad foot, and will get some feedback quick, and start getting their viral video campaign spreading like wildfire!

  3. You know that corporations making all these stupid mistakes is just blowback from the government conspiracy to dumb down Americans with mercury in our flu shots, don’t you!?

  4. The Agency that shot Shatner for the spots should have lots of extra footage; not just outtakes which itself might be funny. At times, TV Commercial directors have a tendency to keep the film rolling between takes; as typically you don’t want to miss anything and the take you really want surprises you.

    Unless the agency puts it out on the net we will never see it.

  5. >I shall be returning to LA, soon to reveal more on William Shatner.
    >Nerine Kidd born July 1959, married actor William Shatner November 1997, murdered by William Shatner August 1999.
    >Rumours began to surface that William Shatner and his latest wife Elizabeth Martin, had started seeing each other at the beginning of his marriage to Nerine. Elizabeth Martin, had a similar interest in horses, It was no coincidence that Nerine was never allowed to visit Shatner’s horse farm in Kentucky.
    >Shatner saw Nerine, as an obstacle and a liability, he wanted to move on.
    >THE PLAN.
    >Note; Nerine was a social drinker, but her associates/friends observed a noticable increase in her drinking during the marriage. Shatner escalated Nerine’s alcohol intake tacitly and directly, to damage her image as a wife, thus attracting sympathy to his martial plight. His tactics were initially focussed on generating a favourable divorce settlement as Nerine was instrumental in introducing Shatner to Jord Poster’s Priceline.com, a business that saw him earn a significant income.
    >This strategy was first evident in October 1998 when filing for divorce papers he asked the Judge not to award alimony.
    >Nerine did not respond to this suit, many thought reconciliation had taken place, however, Shatner frustrated, sort drastic action to rid himself of his ‘liability’.
    >Shatner’s violent intentions began to manifest themself within a short time. In the Spring 1999, Nerine confided in a beautician that her life was under threat from her husband. 3 months before she was killed Shatner struck her in the face and left a considerable gash. she told a friend Shatner had demanded a divorce, she refused, violence ensued. This incident was covered up. On May 26, a member of the public filmed Nerine distressed during a para-sailing session, she exclaimed to Shatner ‘I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO DO’. This video is available to the media.
    >On the day Nerine died, Shatner claimed he was with his daughters celebrating and came home late that day – it was this absence that the Police believed he was not at home the time Nerine died.
    >Nerine, had been in rehab, Shatner told her she was not welcome back to their house, in fact, he said to her ‘this was not her home anymore’.
    >THE DAY.
    >Nerine, duly arrived at her house unexpectedly, Shatner, surprised was furious, their housekeeper claimed she was so drunk she had to be helped to eat, this is not true. It was after the departure of the housekeeper at 3pm, that Shatner murdered his wife. He firstly locked the two guard dogs in the kitchen (the dogs were very fond of Nerine, so any violence towards her would have produced a protective response). The murder took place near the pool, he hit her several tiimes then a final push sent her falling to strike her head against the pool side, semi-conscious, Shatner then held her head under water to force a drowning.
    >Shatner alone, left his wife in the pool,(her clothes were removed see later comment) and headed off to his daughters.
    >On his return that evening, Shatner firstly made a call to someone associated with her rehab, and asked her where his wife was (A fatal error, as he knew where she was). The associate suggested he look in the pool, returning to this call, he then said he had found her. A call only made to reinforce his ignorance.
    >THAT 911 CALL.
    >Shatner’s dubious 911 call was laced with indecision and vagueness. Nerine, naked (he had removed her clothes but did not put any swimwear on – people who knew her were unaware she swam unclothed ) was then by the pool side, she was in full view as he made the emergency call, his brain straining at setting a scenario. His imaginary choice of seeing her at the deep end, is an unusual occurence in domestic pool deaths.
    >Perceived as an accident from the outset, the (crime) scene was quickly cleared that night, few questions were asked. Detective Mike Coffey, claimed he had proof Shatner was not there. Time of death by drowning is extremely difficult to ascertain. Defining ‘was not there’ is not conclusive, this is NO alibi.
    >This showed cuts and bruises, injuries more associated to violence, not swimming pool drownings.
    >An analysis of the autopsy report is available.
    >Nerine, was in great shape, and an excellent swimmer, according to those around her.
    >Nerine’s family first met Shatner at their wedding, he did not at any time mix with them socially. Nerine’s mother and father are dead and only one brother and one sister survive.
    >At the funeral Shatner was overheard in conversation to Nerine’s mother, she requested to him that some of Nerine’s ashes be scattered in Boston harbor, Shatner replied ‘would you like an arm or a thigh’ – an inditement in itself.
    >NOTE. Her surviving sister was bought a property by Shatner, she now lives in the state where Shatner’s horse farm resides Kentucky. Nerine’s brother is unaware of this purchase.
    >Shatner had the use of a constant guard called Oscar, I am now searching for this man. The Police were oblivious to his existence.
    >This synopsis contains only a concise version of events and situations. The investigation started in 2004.
    >Telephone Peter Rydyn on +44 7932 726708 his website http://www.celebrityhomicide.com

  6. I met Bill Shatner recently at a hotel I was staying at. I asked him if he was Bill Shatner, He replied:NO I”M NOT! I was suprised at the tone of his voice and his sneer. I boarded the elevator and the person in the hotel said yes that’s Bill Shatner he is staying here. WHAT A GROUCH. Never will watch him again.

  7. Hey to all of you,
    What if there is truth to this homicide. What if she was murdered by the one man she trusted? Is it right of everyone to stand by and let him get away with this just because he has some cute commercials? A life could have been taken! Someone needs to investigate into this further. If she was murdered her soul cannot rest until he pays for what he has done and truthfully I have a feeling he did, and not to say im psychic but I feel like he is capable of this crime. He bought his sister in law a peice of property, um I wonder why?, maybe because that was the one person who would of asked questions about her death and the brother ? well men are stupid and dont usually give a damn about anything so we cant expect him to give a damn his sister could of been murdered, but to have your sister not give a damn about your death or at least try harder to find out the truth well thats just messed up! Yall can curse me, write me back remarks I dont care, cuz if this guy did murder his wife and he is enjoying life sipping cocktails under the moonlight while his once wife is buried beneath the moonlight well lets just say that im sure he will get what he deserves. Carma is a bitch is all I can say and if he doesnt recieve judgement here on earth he damn well will on the real judgement day….Burn in hell Shatner.

Comments are closed.