Make Priceline.com realize that the way they portray their character "Big Deal" is, in fact, a big deal. "Big Deal” is the newest addition/accomplice to William Shatner's character "the Priceline Negotiator." Explaining the move to incorporate the character, Chief Marketing Officer for Priceline.com, Brett Keller, stated, “we have created Big Deal, a new Negotiator sidekick. In an amusing and entertaining way, Big Deal helps The Negotiator demonstrate just how big the hotel deals are at priceline.com, how easy it is to get them and, most importantly, that priceline.com is the home of the ‘Big Deal’.” (http://www.hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/priceline_focuses_on_hotel_savings_in_new_ad_campaign/) However, unlike the business suit donned by Shatner’s character, the attire that adorns Big Deal is unmistakably drawn from the Pimp stereotype. From his Top Hat down through the oversized white fur coat, Priceline has consciously used the trademark getup of a pimp to represent their company. Simply conduct a Google Image search for "Priceline Pimp" and "Big Deal" pops up.
It appears as though the pimp image has unfortunately become commonplace in our society. Whether used within the music industry (see early releases by Snoop Dogg or any album by rapper Necro - especially the song "The Human Traffic King" from the 2010 release Die!), video gaming (see Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas), or television and film (see MTV's Pimp My Ride or Katt Williams’ Its Pimpin’ Pimpin’) “pimping” pervades popular culture. Furthermore, the term "pimp" has even become a cliche synonymous with that which is "hot, fresh, tricked out" (according to Urban Dictionary.com). Businesses across America feature the tagline "Pimp My..." so frequently that Viacom, the media giant and owner of MTV's Pimp My Ride, has threatened legal action against those that use the phrase "Pimp My..." in their advertising or business name. Taken together, it appears that some of us have even become desensitized to the image and culture of “pimping.”
How has this become possible? According to Rachel Lloyd, founder of the group Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), it is because the average citizen is unaware of what pimping really is. In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Lloyd said, “Girls who have been sexually exploited know what a real pimp is, and they don’t appreciate people making songs about it. It’s the general public who’ve never had that experience that you’ve got to educate.” (http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-04-06/rachel-lloyd-girls-like-us-talks-about-prostitution-and-gems/?cid=video-beast:vertical:bookbeast1) Back in 2006, Lloyd said in her Human Rights Award acceptance speech, "We just recently saw the Academy award "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" with the best song Oscar. They may believe it’s hard out there for a pimp…I'll tell you what, it's hard out here for a thirteen-year-old girl who has run away from home; who is forced to sell her body every night; who is beaten daily, by a man who is old enough to be her father; who is bought and sold by adult men..." This is real “pimping” and it is neither “hot” nor “fresh." The trafficking of women and children for sex is not only inherently a women’s right's issue but a human right's issue as well. Today more young girls aged nine to thirteen are entering into prostitution than ever before. "Pimps now use technology to sell girls as young as 11 or 12 for sex on the Internet and on the street” ( http://www.gvnet.com/childprostitution/USA.htm ) Let us use that very same technology to strike a blow against the pimp and their glorification.
Pimp culture only promotes the degradation of women and sends a negative message to our youth that prostitution is acceptable. A person who buys, sells and physically assaults women is not someone American consumers should be buying a flight, hotel, or car rental from. The use of this likeness for "Big Deal" is appalling. Help erase "pimping" from popular culture by telling Priceline.com's CMO Brett Keller and CEO Jeffery Boyd that there is nothing, to quote Mr. Keller, either “amusing” or “entertaining” about a “Big Deal” that represents the exploitation, abuse and degradation of women.