£2m launch for Priceline in UK

Priceline, the US answer to Lastminute.com, launches in the UK this week with a &£2m ad campaign.

The company specialises in a name-your-price business model which lets consumers take advantage of companies’ unsold inventory. It began with airline tickets and expanded into hotel rooms, car rentals and telephony. It now claims about 8 million customers.

But a more ambitious move into petrol and groceries came to a halt last month and Priceline has since been struggling to regain its former success in the US. It has also been hit by consumer complaints about lack of clarity, prompted by its transaction process (e-volve October 26).

The first phase of the advertising campaign, which will run from the start of November until January, will support the launch of several “tailored” services for the UK, beginning with airline tickets, followed by hotels, rental cars and long-distance telephony.

Online marketing agency Organic says this will be “the first time Priceline has undertaken a comprehensive online ad campaign”.

Organic’s campaign will include rich media and streaming banner ads, sponsorship, search engine optimisation and e-mail marketing. It will also try to maximise viral marketing by feeding information about Priceline to “grass roots communities, chat rooms and newsgroups”. There will be affiliate partnerships with other sites to enable them to sell Priceline’s products and services direct to their customers.

Offline advertising will be handled by Lowe Lintas.

Priceline has a small stake in Lastminute.com, but there is no love lost between the two rivals. Lastminute registered the Priceline.co.uk domain and forced the US firm to pay a significant but undisclosed premium for it.

The UK site (www.priceline.co.uk) will operate independently of Priceline.com.

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