Ad of the Day: Priceline

After 14 years, the brand sends William Shatner's Negotiator character to a fiery death

All good things must come to an end—even William Shatner.

The 80-year-old actor, who has portrayed Priceline's Negotiator off and on for the past 14 years, has reached the end of the line, and is being jettisoned by the company. But in keeping with the character's comically oversized personality, he's not exiting with a whimper—he's going out with a bang.

In his final spot below, called "Priceline Negotiator's Last Deal," he's stuck with some other passengers on a big green school bus that's teetering halfway off the side of a bridge, over a deep ravine. "Maybe this vacation wasn't a good idea," says an anxious mom. "Vacations are already a good idea!" Shatner replies, as he begins helping the passengers off the bus. He suggests they get a hotel. The mom replies that they don't have time to bid through Priceline, but he explains that you don't have to bid—that Priceline has published prices on the site, too, not just the "Name your own price" option.

After everyone is safely on the bridge, Shatner remains on the bus. He hands a smartphone to the mom, cued up to the Priceline site, and dramatically says: "Save yourself! … some money." The bus then drops off the bridge, with Shatner still on it, and explodes in a fireball at the bottom of the gorge—probably the most spectacular sign-off in the history of advertising characters.

Priceline's non-celebrity spokesman, Brian Ek, tells travel site Tnooz that the company wants to emphasize the published-rate model, even though the "Name your own price" option remains. "We'd like a whole lot more people to know about this side of the business than currently do," Ek says. "We put our heads together with the advertising agency—Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, who created the Negotiator character—and they suggested we consider doing something over the top with the 2012 campaign to grab people's attention and make sure nobody misses the message."

More spots will follow featuring interviews with some of the "survivors" of the bus tragedy. But for Shatner, it's a fitting conclusion to a great run. Did anyone doubt that he would go out in a blaze of glory?

CREDITS

Client: Priceline

Agency: Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, Sausalito, Calif.

Creative Director: Steve Mapp

Associate creative director.: Josh Leutz

Art Director: Steve Mapp

Writers: Josh Leutz, Michael Flannery

Agency producer: Susan Crimley

Production house: MJZ

Director: Craig Gillespie

Producer: Martha Davis

Editorial: Cleaver Editorial

Editor: Pete Koob

Assistant Editor: Ivy Calhoun

Post EFX: The Mill

Editor: Ben Hampshire

Producers: Adam Reeb, Sue Troyan