This week, priceline.com and William Shatner will celebrate almost a decade of collaboration with the official launch of a new advertising campaign that features Mr. Shatner and highlights priceline.com’s unique ability to negotiate great travel deals on behalf of its millions of customers. The campaign contains broadcast, print and online elements.

In 1997, priceline.com first contacted Mr. Shatner about representing its new and then-unproven Name Your Own Price® travel service. “We were looking for a figure who was trustworthy, known for having futuristic ideas, and instantly identifiable across multiple generations,” said priceline.com’s Chief Marketing Officer Brett Keller. “Bill met those criteria. The match was so successful that we believe our partnership is one of the longest-running company/celebrity relationships in advertising history.”

The relationship has certainly been a winning one for all involved. Priceline.com introduced its first ad campaign in April 1998 and, by year end, priceline.com was one of the best-known brands in the online space. Priceline.com quickly became a leading online travel service, with gross bookings growing from $40 million in 1998 to over $3 billion in 2006.

While priceline.com’s gross bookings continued to grow, so did the savings for its customers. To date, priceline.com customers have saved over $6 billion on their travel purchases. Recently, priceline.com expanded to Europe, where it operates one of the leading online hotel reservation services in 40 countries in 12 languages and offers its customers in Europe and the U.S. access to approximately 25,000 participating European hotels.

The priceline.com campaigns provided Mr. Shatner with a forum to showcase his comedic talents. Priceline.com’s Troubadour campaign, featuring a singing William Shatner, was so popular that it was spoofed by Jay Leno, parodied on Saturday Night Live, lampooned in MAD Magazine, and even featured as a question on Jeopardy and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. “Those references were high tribute, because they clearly demonstrated that we had cut through with the brand message and embedded it into pop culture,” said Mr. Shatner.

“Most celebrity spokesperson campaigns are short-lived, either because the celebrity has lost audience appeal or the ad treatment has gotten stale,” said Mike Shine, Co-Creative Director of Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners (BSSP), priceline.com’s advertising agency. “Neither has occurred here. Bill’s popularity is growing and priceline.com continues to find fresh ways to present its message.”

The Negotiator campaign represents another groundbreaking step for priceline.com. In past campaigns, Mr. Shatner has appeared as himself in a supporting role to the priceline.com brand. In the new campaign, he plays the role of priceline.com’s tough chief negotiating officer, taking viewers behind the scenes to see the unique ways in which priceline.com negotiates the best possible deals on behalf of its customers and going to extremes to help customers find the deals that are right for them. His commitment is reflected in the campaign’s tagline - No One Deals Like We Do. “As the relentless and effective Priceline Negotiator, Bill embodies everything we do at priceline.com to find our customers the best possible travel deals and provide them with more ways to save than any other major online travel service,” said Keller.

“We took our inspiration for The Priceline Negotiator character and the stylistic elements of the campaign from the classic spy genre of the 1960s – films like the original Bond movies and Our Man Flint, and TV shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” said Shine. “The Negotiator is cool, in-control and obviously well-traveled, but willing to go to any length to get a fellow traveler a great deal.”

Each spot opens with a frantic telephone call to The Negotiator in his secret lair. A consumer needs him to intervene and secure a great travel deal. Of course, The Negotiator can’t refuse. With an arsenal of tricks, tools and charm, The Negotiator speeds to the scene and nails down the deal. “The campaign presents priceline.com’s core brand assets in a breakthrough, culturally relevant way that will extend beyond traditional advertising to foster a deeper level of engagement with consumers,” said Cort Cunningham, priceline.com’s Director of Advertising & Brand Development.

Related Link: Priceline's Negotiater spots