The new ad from the Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners agency doesn't address how the Negotiator survived, but Shatner, 81, offers his preferred fantasy: "A beautiful girl gave me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation."
Whatever it took, the new ad reverses a flawed decision to throw the Negotiator under the bus, according to Shatner. He's played the pitchman for six years and has done Priceline spots for about 14 in all.
"I knew it was a mistake, absolutely," he said.
Agreed, said Peter Sealey, adjunct professor at the Claremont Graduate University's school of management and former marketing head for the Coca-Cola Co.
Sealey had granted Priceline leeway when it gave the Negotiator the heave-ho. He reasoned that the company was changing its business model from "a name-your-price model to a fixed-price approach," and the pitchman seemed to speak to the past.
In retrospect, Sealey said, "You don't give up equity like Priceline had in Shatner. ... It's like Aflac giving up the duck or Progressive (insurance) giving up Flo," he said. Shatner's return "won't correct a bad earning report, but it is the right move."
Last Wednesday, Priceline.com Inc.'s stock fell more than $100, about 17 percent, after the company warned investors that its third-quarter revenue and income would come in far below analysts' forecasts because of the deepening malaise in Europe, a burden shared by other companies.
Another blow came Monday: Shares of Priceline and other online travel companies fell after Google announced the acquisition of the Frommer's brand of travel guides, beefing up Google's array of travel search and review assets.
Cue Shatner, who as the valiant Capt. James T. Kirk of the "Star Trek" TV and movie franchise knows what it's like to play the hero. Nothing wrong with doing so in a commercial, he said.
"There's a certain pride in making a character in advertising a popular character," he said. "You could look at it as an achievement."