Priceline Review Comes Down to the Wire

By Patrick Coffee 

Earlier this summer, ended its more than eight-year relationship with Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners when the agency declined to participate in a creative review.

This week, four agencies are preparing to make final presentations to as they vie to succeed the long-time incumbent as the travel site’s lead creative shop.

A client rep told us that the finalists are Arnold Boston, BBDO New York, The Martin Agency and Venables Bell & Partners. (That list was determined some weeks back following agency visits by officials.)


In June, had confirmed a list of semifinals that included the four aforementioned agencies along with Leo Burnett, Droga5 and Grey New York.

Shortly before the semifinalists were chosen, Butler, Shine CEO Greg Stern explained his shop’s decision to drop out:

“We feel that focusing on current clients, new clients and our new business pipeline is a better use of resources.”

The finalists are scheduled to meet with executives at the client’s Norwalk headquarters in the next two weeks, with a decision expected by month’s end. spends nearly $45 million annually on domestic ads. Media duties on the account, handled by Ocean Media of Huntington Beach, are not part of the review process (which is being managed by consultancy Ark Advisors of New York).

There’s been a lot of speculation about the future direction of Priceline’s creative approach. William Shatner has long starred in the company’s ads as “The Negotiator,” joined in recent years by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting in the role of his daughter. In June, client CMO Brett Keller told Adweek that he would let the contenders decide how much those actors would be used moving forward as prefers not to “force the agencies who are participating to do anything that they don’t believe in.”

Today, a rep said of the finalists:

“We are impressed with all four and believe they are all on the right path to helping us establish a breakthrough creative platform that will differentiate our brand and attract new customers.”

Adweek’s David Gianatasio contributed to this post.