The brand created a fake label under the name “Palessi” and invited fashion experts to be there for the elaborate “grand opening,” which took place in a former Armani store in Santa Monica, California.
Little did they know, it was all just a publicity stunt.
The low-budget company put its normal shoes out on display, and dramatically marked up the prices to see if anyone would notice. Surprisingly, they didn’t.
Influencers were extremely enthusiastic about the new “brand,” as seen in this video shared by the company on Facebook. Comments like, “they’re elegant, sophisticated,” and “I could tell it was made from high-quality material,” were heard coming from two of the shoppers, and others shared the same sentiment.
Payless successfully tricked social media influencers into paying as much as $640 USD for their footwear, which is typically priced at $39.99.
The retailer “wanted to push the social experiment genre to new extremes, while simultaneously using it to make a cultural statement,” said Doug Cameron, DCX Growth Accelerator’s chief creative officer in Adweek. “Payless customers share a pragmatist point of view, and we thought it would be provocative to use this ideology to challenge today’s image-conscious fashion influencer culture.”
Palessi managed to get up to $3,000 before revealing the truth to shoppers.
Their reactions when they found out are also caught on camera, and it’s priceless! In the end, they gave everyone their money back, and influencers got to bring home their favourite pair of shoes. It worked out well for both parties.
Payless CMO Sarah Couch says the chain aimed to tackle the brand’s perception issues head-on at a time when retailers are feeling more heat than ever from giant e-commerce sites.
The campaign is an amazing comeback and publicity stunt for Payless.
Back in 2017, the budget shoe company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. While the majority of Canadian stores were, for the most part, unaffected by the filing, the United States and Puerto Rico saw nearly 400 store locations close down.
Today, Payless ShoeSource is one of the largest retail chains who have been able to pull themselves out of bankruptcy. They’ve cleaned up their balance sheet and will be focusing on their brick and mortar stores. And it looks like they’re coming back with a bang!
Featured Image: Facebook/Payless ShoeSource