Payless tricked a group of fashionistas into buying their low-cost shoes for Madison Avenue prices.
The company opened a fake store at a former Armani location in Santa Monica, California under the bogus label "Palessi," and invited discriminating high-end shoppers to a fake launch party. VIP shoppers paid as much as $645 for shoes which normally sell between $19.00 and $39.99 at Payless, according to NBC San Diego.
Payless posted a video of what happened on Facebook, with some unwitting influencers commenting on the "high-quality material" of the "elegant, sophisticated" bargain shoes. -NBC San Diego
Customers bought $3,000 in merchandise over a few hours before Payless admitted to the prank, gave people their money back, and let them keep the shoes. "Shut up! Are you serious?" exclaimed one shopper.
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.
“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.” -AdWeek
Payless CMO Sarah Couch said that the campaign was designed to illustrate that their brand can keep up with the big boys (and girls) at a time when retailers are feeling more competitive heat than ever.
"The campaign plays off of the enormous discrepancy and aims to remind consumers we are still a relevant place to shop for affordable fashion," said Couch.
No word on whether the heels on those Payless shoes will suddenly fall off in the middle of a 10-block urban hike through Manhattan vs. the $600 option, but for their prices, one can afford a few backup pairs.