The cameras zoomed in on William Shatner as he raced a baby carriage through a crowded outdoor restaurant in Koreatown.
Dressed in a black suit, his hair neatly grayed, Shatner focused on the task at hand: looking genuinely interested in saving people money on airfare. Famous for playing Denny Crane in "Boston Legal" and for having been Captain Kirk in "Star Trek" on TV and in the movies, he was reprising his longest-running role: spokesman for Priceline.com Inc., which operates a travel website.
Passers-by gawked and took photos with their cellphones. Two Korean women who didn't speak English petted his jacket, and one even tried to hug him.
The scene said it all. The 10-year relationship between Shatner and Priceline has buoyed the fortunes of both, and reminded advertisers that celebrities, however faded their popularity, can do wonders for a brand. Auto insurer Geico is one company that has taken the concept to town with the likes of Little Richard, Burt Bacharach and James Lipton.