Online travel firm Priceline has selected Toronto agency Grip Limited as its new U.S. agency of record, replacing BBDO New York, which had handled the Priceline assignment since 2015.
It is the first U.S. AOR assignment for Grip Limited says partner David Chiavegato. The agency had previously created U.S. social work for Stella Artois, and had also worked with Frito-Lay.
Andrew Sneyd, vice-president of brand marketing for Priceline in New York, worked with Grip back to the early 2000s when he was director of marketing for Labatt Breweries of Canada—working on creative campaigns including the Kokanee Ranger.
“I had a great experience working with them, and I knew they were talented, pragmatic communication experts,” he says. “That certainly got them a seat at the table.”
The Dentsu Aegis Network shop was among “a select group of agencies” invited to pitch on the Priceline assignment last year, says Sneyd. Grip’s creative concept for Priceline was the “clear winner” in consumer testing. “Theirs was the one that came out as the clear winner, both in its ability to sell trips and improve the Priceline brand,” says Sneyd.
Grip has extensive experience with online travel, having spent several years working with Expedia.ca—the popular World Traveller character was among its creations—before the brand consolidated its advertising with Saatchi & Saatchi early last year.
While stressing that it’s not a key objective, Chiavegato says the Priceline assignment could also help raise the agency’s profile among U.S. clients, particularly with the “compelling” offer of greater value created by the weaker Canadian dollar.
“There are lots of fantastic clients with great brands in Canada, but it kind of opens up the door to more great brands and clients in the U.S. It demonstrates that even though we’re geographically separated from the client, we can work effectively and efficiently regardless of the fact we’re in a different country.”
The new Priceline campaign features longtime Priceline spokesperson and The Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco, addressing various travel “delegates” from groups including family reunions, sports fans and romantic getaways who have benefited from the great deals they’ve found on the website.
“She brings her talent into this campaign really well,” says Sneyd of Cuoco, who has been working with Priceline since 2013. “She’s a great comedic actress, and Grip did a fantastic job creating a campaign that allows her talents to shine.”
It is also probable that Grip Limited will work with Canadian actor William Shatner at some point in the relationship. Priceline killed off Shatner’s “Negotiator” character in 2012, only to resurrect him shortly afterwards.
“He’s a continuing spokesperson who helped us celebrate our 20th anniversary last year,” says Sneyd. “He’s an important part of our history.”
The new Grip campaign also introduces Priceline’s new tagline “Every trip is a big deal,” which Sneyd says symbolizes the company’s commitment to offering good deals whatever the travel experience.
“I love that it’s reminding everyone that we understand how travel is important in people’s lives,” he says. “We’re making the point that a vacation doesn’t have to be a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list experience for it to be important. It can be a road-trip with friends or the chance to enjoy a wedding.”
Priceline boasts that it saved users more than US$1 billion in travel costs last year. “Price is the single most important decision for people when they’re travelling, and we’re really focused on helping people get great travel deals,” says Sneyd.