Captain Kirk is now doing performance art: In Priceline.com's new 30-second TV commercials, spokesman William Shatner offers spoken-word renditions of "Convoy" and "Age of Aquarius" over guitar strums. The spots take on an added absurdity because the object of Shatner's beat-poetic rapture is the "name your own price" Web-based airline-and-hotel-room broker: "Thick towels, room service, in-flight movies. . . . Once upon a time, you had to be rich to live like a king. . . . Not with dramatic pause Priceline pause dot com." And so on. Shatner, who clutches a sweaty, crumpled handkerchief Elvis-style, closes with "The king is dead. Long live the king." An unseen audience applauds. It's meant to be sort of gently self-mocking: Shatner, like Leonard "Spock" Nimoy, released LPs of pop standards during his Star Trek heyday (he talked his way through "songs" for want of a singing voice). And since actually using Priceline.com is one big pain in the ass -- when you bid on tickets and rooms, you can't specify exact flights or specific hotels, so you could end up on a red-eye and at a run-down Ramada near the airport -- it's definitely a good idea that these spots don't get too specific about product benefits. Like all things Internet, it's all about perception, not reality.
BRAND X: Cheap Trill
CAMPAIGN: "The Troubadour"
AGENCY: Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos (Boston)
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: David Wecal