“It’s a tough decision, but the bottom line is Priceline had to do it,” said Peter Sealey, adjunct professor at the Claremont Graduate University’s school of management. “They’re changing their business model from a name-your-price model to a fixed-price approach.”
Shatner’s Negotiator was just too good at representing the old approach, Sealey said.
“Had he been less effective, he could have been allowed to fade away,” he said.
The Priceline Negotiator was “fired” in the most literal terms possible going up in flames as the Negotiator and the bus from which he saved a bunch of fellow travelers explodes. And interestingly, the astrology shows the timing, which we’ll get to in a minute. But first let’s go into a little business history.
The iconic Shatner, known as “the man” by a number of his faithful fans, started as nascent Priceline’s front man in 1997, not for money, but in exchange for stock in the company. Wikipedia tell us:
“The arrangement turned out to be quite profitable for Shatner, who sold much of the stock shortly before its value plummeted in the dot-com bust and has since made approximately $600 million from Priceline.com. (This reported sum has been met with some skepticism from the financial press.) An early ad campaign featuring Shatner had him belt out popular songs in spoken word, in the style of his album, The Transformed Man. He was “replaced” in 2004 by his Star Trek co-star, Leonard Nimoy. Shatner still appeared in spots for Priceline, running into Nimoy as his replacement. When that campaign ended, Shatner again became Priceline’s sole spokesperson. In 2007, a new ad campaign by Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners had Shatner take on the role of Priceline’s Negotiator.”
Priceline says this about choosing Shatner as their front man:
In 1997, priceline.com first contacted Mr. Shatner about representing its new and then-unproven Name Your Own Price(R) travel service. “We were looking for a figure who was trustworthy, known for having futuristic ideas, and instantly identifiable across multiple generations,” said priceline.com’s Chief Marketing Officer Brett Keller. “Bill met those criteria. The match was so successful that we believe our partnership is one of the longest-running company/celebrity relationships in advertising history.”
Priceline’s Madmen released details on the “The Falcon of Truth” campaign on January 16, 2007 giving us the “birthdate” of the Price Negotiator. (To see the video and a hilarious outtake reel go here: Falcon of Truth.)
Priceline incorporated on July 30, 1998 giving us its “birthdate”. Previously Priceline existed as an LLC, but incorporation makes the company a “legal person” in the eyes of the law. We don’t have times for either of these dates so the ascendant and midheaven for these charts are based on sunrise.
An interesting feature is a yod in the sunrise chart, made up of Mercury, the planet of communications in Leo, Jupiter in Pisces and the moon. Normally we don’t discuss the moon in a sunrise chart. We don’t know what time those articles of incorporation were filed in the court, but it would have to be between 9 AM to 5 PM, business hours, so the moon position could be anywhere between 25 degrees Libra to 1 degree of Scorpio, well within the orb to make a yod. What I find so interesting about this yod is the movement of transiting Saturn, the great timekeeper. The “birthdate” of the Priceline Negotiator has Saturn sitting on Priceline’s planet of communication, Mercury, and Saturn on the “day of death” of the Negotiator sits within the orb of Priceline’s moon which in at least the Uranian system of astrology represents employees. Also, transiting Saturn on the “day of death” is opposite transiting Jupiter which is sitting on Priceline’s natal Saturn. In other words, time for Priceline Negotiator was up!
Don’t be so sure that Shatner himself is gone as front man for Priceline though. He has done a number of different kinds of commercials for Priceline over the years. He is still under contract to Priceline. And he is, after all, still “the man.”
Photo of William Shatner published from a Creative Commons license by Jerry Avenaim as described on Wikimedia Commons.