After 14 years as Priceline’s pitchman — five of those as the beloved and ridiculous “Priceline Negotiator” — the company is letting actor William Shatner’s character go, sending him over a cliff and out with a bang.
The 80-year-old actor resumes his role as the Negotiator for the last time in a TV commercial set to air next Monday, (though it’s already up on YouTube and Priceline’s Facebook page) during which he saves tourists on a bus teetering on a bridge’s railing, the Associated Press reports. In his final moments, the Negotiator hands his cell phone to one of the passengers, uttering his last words of advice as the greatest discount travel pitchman of all time: “Save yourselves—some money.” An explosion follows, and the bus and the Negotiator meet their demise.
The decision to move on to a different advertising campaign and strategy was not a reflection of Shatner’s work, Christopher Soder, CEO of Priceline.com North America, told the AP. “Had he been less effective, he could have been allowed to fade away. I don’t know if I would have gone as far as the bus exploding.”
So, why the change? What could top the catchy “Price-line Ne-go-ti-a-tor!” tagline from the commercials and Shatner’s charm?
The company says it is expanding and looking to better reflect the services they offer. In addition to being a travel site where users can bid on deals, the site also offers discount prices for over 200,000 hotels in 140 countries. In order to commit to their new direction and services, they’re going to need a fresh marketing approach.
But Shatner seems sad to see this era end: “I’m in grief mode,” he told the AP. “It’s not the first time I’ve had an iconic character die off.”
It’s certainly not. Shatner’s legendary Captain James T. Kirk—of the original Star Trek series and films—was killed off as well, in 1994’s Star Trek: Generations. With the Internet immortalizing characters like the Negotiator, we don’t think it will be difficult for him to live on in our hearts and our GIFs, though.
In addition to debuting next week, the Priceline ad may also run during the Super Bowl—so keep your eyes peeled on gameday.