From Fake News To Fake Shoes - How Payless Pranked So-Called 'Influencers'

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. 

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Kate Monroe 3 months ago Member's comment

This was a brilliant marketing campaign.

Ayelet Wolf 3 months ago Member's comment

Aren't the "fashionistas" in the video absolutely humiliated for being such suckers? Bragging about how they can tell how high quality the shoes are? Won't they sue?

BreakingBad News 3 months ago Member's comment

Some people are just excited to be on TV no matter what.

Adam Reynolds 3 months ago Member's comment

They probably signed some kind of release to get into the "VIP event." Ayelet is right, suckers is the more accurate description. It will be hard for them to live this down if they have any sort of career or following in the fashion industry.

James Dean Samuels 3 months ago Member's comment

Just goes to show, that people pay far more than they have to for a brand name... you are essentially paying for the higher marketing budget!