Dumping Shatner is only a symptom

Priceline has announced they are ending their relationship with William Shatner because he has been too successful at positioning them in the “name your own price” travel market. Apparently generating $1.5B in revenue, which is a 45% increase over the prior year was not enough. Management feels they need to move more into the “maximum discount” travel space. You know the wide-open space not already occupied by Travelocity and Expedia. They seem to believe that by killing off Shatner (literally in an ad) they can eliminate the problem that Mr. Shatner is so closely identified with his character, The Negotiator, and Priceline. They want to to focus on the fixed-price discount (at 200,000 hotels in 140 countries) instead of the name-your-own-price business Mr. Shatner made famous.

So abandon a position you dominate to attempt to crack a market dominated by two other strong brands? That suggests some possible conclusions for me:

1. The name your own price business is actually unprofitable and after 14 years the Board finally figured that out, or

2. The Board and its management team don’t understand what happens with most brand extensions. No problem, their shareholders will learn.


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