Priceline ‘Negotiators’ Put Creative Up for Review

William Shatner-hawked travel site spends more than $40 million in media annually

Priceline.com's creative business is up for review, the company has confirmed.

Ark Advisors in New York is the consultancy hired to run the process. Ark could not immediately be reached, but sources said that the online travel site had already begun to contact agencies.

The brand, part of the Priceline Group (which also includes Kayak.com and Booking.com), spent $43 million in media last year, down from $49 million in 2013, according to Kantar Media. Collectively, the group spent more than $136 million in media in 2014, Kantar Media reported.

The incumbent is Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners in Sausalito, Calif., which has been invited to defend, a Priceline representative said. The shop has handled the account since 2006. Before that, the business was at Gotham in New York.

Priceline's ads have long featured actor William Shatner, most recently in the role of the "Negotiator." Recent ads have paired him with The Big Bang Theory actress Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, who plays his daughter.

Those actors remain under contract and will continue to appear in Priceline ads, the rep said.

The company has high brand awareness, "but we're constantly looking for ways to keep the brand fresh and connect with consumers," the rep added. "So, that's what we're doing."

Priceline also has a new CEO who has a background in marketing. Paul Hennessy succeeded Chris Soder on April 1. Previously, Hennessy was chief marketing officer at sister brand Booking.com.

Media planning and buying responsibilities are not in play and remain at Ocean Media. The creative search is in its early stages and is expected to conclude in September.