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Priceline debuts TV ad to highlight mobile offerings

The online travel agency’s TV ad leverages actress and spokeswoman Kaley Cuoco to appeal to a tech-savvy group of consumers. The TV spot began airing this week.

“Mobile is a growing piece of our business, so much so that it made sense to highlight it in the spot,” said Brian EK, spokesman for Priceline, Norwalk, CT.

“Kaley appeals to a younger market segment that would be natural users of smart devices,” he said.

“I think it’s safe to say you’ll see more mobile references in our marketing going forward.”

Book on mobile
The Priceline ad features actress Kaley Cuoco as the daughter of the Priceline Negotiator, who is played by William Shatner.

The 30-second spot takes place in Siberia and focuses around the Price Negotiator’s daughter finding her father in a jail cell where he is being guarded by a Russian guard named Taktarov.

To help her father escape, the Priceline Negotiator’s daughter suggests that they use Priceline’s Express Deals.

Then she shows her father how Priceline’s Express Deals works by handing him her smartphone.

She explains to the Russian guard and her father that Express Deals lets consumers find great hotel rooms without bidding.

Express Deals claims to let consumers save up to 45 percent off of published rates.

Similar to the company’s Name Your Own Price service, consumers do not know the name of a hotel before they book it. However, they can pick a city, neighborhood and hotel star-level to narrow down their search.

Priceline’s Express Deals is available via the company’s iPhone, Android and iPod touch application as well as a desktop site.

The group ends up making a hotel booking in a tropical location, getting the Priceline Negotiator and his daughter out of Siberia.

Here is the TV commercial

Mobile push
The new advertising campaign is the latest example of how mobile is playing a big role for Priceline.

The company’s Super Bowl TV spot this year also focused on highlighting Priceline’s mobile services as a way to introduce Ms. Cuoco as the brand’s new spokeswoman (see story).

Using a TV ad to focus on mobile makes sense for Priceline since the company increasingly sees more bookings being made via handsets, especially for last-minute reservations.

For example, a Priceline executive at the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2013 conference recently said that 60 percent of the mobile bookings happen within 20 miles of a hotel, showing how mobile users wait until the last second to book in hopes of finding a good deal (see story).

As mobile continues to grow in importance in how consumers make travel plans, Priceline’s newest TV campaign points to the opportunities that marketers have to tie mobile and TV together in marketing initiatives.

“Playing up mobile during a TV ad should be a no-brainer move for most companies,” said Mike DiMarco, director of media at FiddleFly, Columbia, MD.

Mr. DiMarco is not affiliated with Priceline. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

“More than 65 percent of people who watch TV do so while also using their smartphones or tablets, so giving them an advertisement that highlights a product they already have in their hands can be a home run,” he said.

“I would certainly expect that Priceline will see a nice healthy influx of users trying out the Express Deals as long as the actual mobile content is simple to use and effective.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York