The Los Angeles Times ran a story recently about William Shatner that was very interesting, pointing out that celebrities, however faded their popularity, can do wonders for a brand. Shatner is celebrating the tenth year of his association with Priceline.com. It is his longest-running role, and you can't help thinking he's really having fun with it.
Interesting fact - Shatner beat Bill Cosby for the Priceline gig back in 1997. Shatner got the nod because he was "futuristic" in his persona, said Chief Marketing Officer Brett Keller, and because "anyone holding a credit card aged 18 to 95 had heard of William Shatner and knew who he was." The first spots were hits, parodied on Saturday Night Live. They "propelled Priceline from a second- or third-tier brand to a top-tier brand with extremely high brand awareness," Keller said, adding that company surveys found that people were as familiar with Priceline as with online shopping giant EBay, and more than 90% of people asked had heard of Priceline.
Auto insurer Geico is one company that has taken the concept to town with the likes of Little Richard, Burt Bacharach and James Lipton.
Shatner is a real piece of work. My hat's off to him. He's proven that you can be a has-been and still come back. I guess the point is that Shatner was a has-been only in terms of mainstream popularity. He's always had a big following among the baby boomers who remember him from Twilight Zone - "There's a man -- on the wing!" -- and Star Trek. Oh, and let's not forget TJ Hooker!
My Art Director, Scott Spear, takes great pleasure in playing the MP3 of Shatner's spoken-word performance of Elton John's "Rocket Man" from a 1981 episode of the John Davidson Show. It's classic Shatner, and even after some 1,400 in-office plays, never fails to get a laugh. It's a great tension-breaker.
Comments posted on the YouTube page of Shatner's "Bust a Move" spot indicate the commercials might also have helped his reputation with fans. "Shatner is GOD," said one. Two others were compelled to write, individually: "The Shat rules!"
Yes, The Shat rules, and thanks to Priceline.com, YouTube, Star Trek reruns and new episodes of Boston Legal, I'm sure he'll live long and prosper.