Years ago I worked in a small but progressive agency in Boston. One day a guy paid us a visit. He wanted us to to create an ad campaign for a new company. It was called priceline.com. He was the marketing manager.
The founder of the company, a brilliant but eccentric guy named Jay Walker, had somehow gotten all the major airlines to allow him to auction off their unfilled seats on this new website. That alone was a staggering achievement.
Priceline.com, unlike a lot of other dotcoms, was a brilliant idea. It was a great use of the internet. Consumers got better deals, the airlines got money they otherwise wouldn’t and priceline.com made a fortune. Win, win, and frankly, win.
So we set about creating ads for this company. It was easy. Simply communicate the idea behind priceline and it would sell itself.
Then we went off to see Jay Walker in Connecticut. His office was in the old Singer sewing machine HQ. A strangely avant garde architectural tour de force. Sewing machines used to be like computers at one time. Every household had one. Big money was made evidently. Apparently from the air the buildings looked like parts of a sewing machine.
So we go into Jay Walker’s office. Jay himself was a fizzing energy bomb. His office reflected this. Everywhere you looked he had these perpetual motion sculptures whirring and moving incessantly. And all over his walls were space and sci fi memorabilia. Astronauts gloves etc.
After semi-listening to our presentation, he looked at us and said “Have you guys considered using Shatner?”. Shatner? Oh, you mean William Shatner. Captain Kirk! No, we hadn’t considered using Shatner. But I got the distinct feeling that we would now. And we did.
“Bill” Shatner is still doing priceline.com ads 13 years later.