AdVantage: Shatner sings the blues
by Ryan Monceaux, Editor In Chief
By now, everyone with any connection with the outside world has seen (or at least heard) William Shatner's Priceline.com commercials. (If you haven't, you can view them at http://www.priceline.com/media/ plmedia.htm) You know which ones I am talking about: the lounge lizard singing to his heart's content about those important things in life - love, the King and cheap airfare. It's kind of pathetic, right?
By no means am I a musician nor do I claim to be able to assess the entire discipline of cultural criticism, but the madness has to stop. William, from the bottom of my heart I beg you to move on!
Many of you know that in the late 1960's, before he became a television icon and well before it became popular for actors to sing, Shatner recorded his own album. In what should have been called Little Billy Shatner Howls At The Moon, Capt. James T. Kirk butchers famous songs such as "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "Mr. Tambourine Man." As a treat to those who can get their hands on this collector's item (or blackmail, whatever you'd prefer to call it), Shatner also reads Shakespeare over music. King Lear would be proud.
Since the Beatles introduced "Lucy in the sky with diamonds," several artists have recorded it, including the Grateful Dead and Elton John. However, Shatner's version takes the cake.
If you cannot find Shatner's record at Wherehouse Music, go here to listen to all of the hits from The Transformed Man: http://www.shatnerrocks.com/. You might want to check out the track entitled "Spleen."
Yet no matter how bad he destroys the work of accomplished artists before him, this New Age balladeer and priceline.com continue to stream along full-speed ahead. What once just offered airline tickets, priceline's list of services includes hotel rooms, mortgages, rental cars, new cars and groceries.
The five commercials that have been introduced in the series (a total of ten will be launched once the campaign is complete) have all poked fun at Shatner's pre-fame recording days. The last spots in the series, according to priceline.com's CMO Michael McCadden, "promise to be even more over-the-top as Bill and the band really start to improvise and have fun."
There's no doubt that the spots are over the top and it does seem he's having fun (in his own bizarre way) but are people noticing? A washed-up actor making a joke of his career has become fairly ordinary and does not seem like something that should be of any particular interest. We shall see ...
Super Bust XXXIV
Since everyone else has done so, I might as well add my two cents worth regarding Super Bowl commercials. Granted, none of the dot coms made a huge impact (except for E*Trade, which may have been the best spots of the big game) but many of them made headlines after the game was over.
Lifeminders.com, who did their spot in-house, parted ways with their agency of record, Fallon McElligott, the next day. Saying the parting was mutual and had nothing to do with that abortion of a Super Bowl ad, it was revealed that Lifeminders asked Fallon to come up with the 30-second spot two weeks before the Super Bowl. Umm, okay! Congrats to Fallon for saying no - not a bad idea considering the cost of the ad: $3M. Hopefully lifeminders will spend some of that money next year on a better creative team.
Britannica.com's ad - well, all I remember is a black and white Peter Fonda - was well received and thankfully for the company, the site did not come to a smashing halt this time around. No one will ever forget that mid-October morning when Britannica.com went live only to experience the biggest crash in Internet history. Oh, and the company is still as arrogant as ever. Read this from their "About Britannica.com" section of the site:
"For over two centuries, Encyclopedia Britannica has been the singular international reference work that families around the world have aspired to possess."
I know my family never wanted fame, fortune or equality. They just aspired to possess those damn reference books. Umm, yeah.
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