Payless opened a fake pop-up store called “Palessi” in an upscale Santa Monica location. Palessi was stocked with $19.99 – $39.99 Payless shoes and various groups of fashion influencers were then invited to the grand opening to shop the ‘designer’ shoes.
The shoppers had no idea that they were looking at the discounted Payless brand and said they’d pay top dollar for the stylish shoes. They commented on the high quality, elegance and sophistication of the brand. They expressed their admiration and spent hundreds of dollars on single pairs of $19.99 shoes – $640 was paid for a single pair of boots.
Payless rang up the purchases but did not keep the money in the end. Once the stunt was revealed, they refunded the customers and let them keep the shoes free of charge.
AdWeek reports that the retailer “wanted to push the social experiment genre to new extremes, while simultaneously using it to make a cultural statement”, according to Doug Cameron, DCX Growth Accelerator’s chief creative officer. DCX Growth Accelerator is the agency that invited the influencers to the store. Their services include brand strategy, advertising, cultural activism, brand identity and brand launching.
Payless CMO Sarah Couch says they aimed to tackle the brand’s perception issues. Shopper’s reactions once finding out the truth were captured on video and the campaign’s ads (videos including shopper’s reactions) will run through the holiday season on various networks including Bravo, Lifetime, TBS, Telemundo and USA. The ads can also be seen on social platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
Now this is what you call a “priceless” story!
See one of the Payless ads below: