Priceline.com Continues “Computer” Campaign

Priceline.com is rolling out the second wave of its new radio advertising campaign, again featuring actor William Shatner as pitchman.

The new ads have Shatner interacting with the Priceline.com “SuperComputer,” which made its debut in the Norwalk, Conn.-based online travel player’s last ads, earlier this year. Unlike earlier radio and television ads from the company, the most recent campaign plays on Shatner’s role in the classic 1960’s sci-fi series, “Star Trek.”

In one spot, Shatner orders the computer to run a diagnostic program comparing Priceline’s prices for airfare, hotel rooms and rental cars to those of competing online travel services. In response, the SuperComputer says, “While other online travel services merely offer lists of low fares, only Priceline.com has the patented Name Your Own Price technology.” But when Shatner asks why all travelers don’t use Priceline.com, the computer is baffled.

In other executions, Shatner and the SuperComputer chat about the differences between Priceline and rival services — including its partnerships with the nation’s five largest hotel chains, air carriers, and rental companies.

“These points should make it clear that priceline.com is the best choice for the savvy traveler,” said Priceline Chief Marketing Officer Brett Keller. “Look around, get the best price you can find, then come to Priceline.com and make an even lower offer. If you can be flexible in your travel plans, there’s no reason to accept anyone’s so-called ‘best’ price, when you can come to Priceline.com and do even better.”

The ads conclude with the company’s new tagline, spoken by the SuperComputer: “Priceline.com: I think, therefore, I save.”

Shatner first appeared for Priceline in a series of TV and radio spots designed by ad agency Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos. The 1999 TV campaign, dubbed “Troubadour,” drew on Shatner’s post-“Star Trek” stint as a spoken-word lounge act with the actor portraying a campy beat poet covering popular songs and breaking into sermons extolling the virtues of Priceline.com. Those ads generally used the tagline, “Name your own price.”

In 2000, Priceline began a new series of ads featuring the voice of “Sex and the City” star Sarah Jessica Parker, though the company ultimately returned to Shatner in February for the launch of the current campaign. In the effort’s inaugural radio spot, Shatner introduces the SuperComputer and says that it’s working to meet users’ named prices for travel services.

Priceline.com has said that Shatner’s contract allows for new TV spots, through it has declined to say whether such ads are in the works. It has also said that it is working on online executions for the campaign.

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