The budget-friendly Payless shoe company ran a successful social media experiment that had social media influencers duped.
Taking over a former Armani store, Payless opened a fake pop-up store called “Palessi” in Los Angeles, complete with a grand-opening party, champagne and red carpet, AdWeek reported.
The posh store was stocked with affordably priced shoes offered by Payless, but party-goers had no idea as was seen in an advertising campaign video the company revealed Wednesday.
“They’re elegant, sophisticated,” one person said.
“I would pay $400 or $500,” a woman holding a pair of $19.99 sneakers said.
With a website and an Instagram account to add to the authenticity, Palessi experienced a successful launch with about $3,000 worth of products being sold in the first few hours. Shoes normally priced in Payless stores at $20 to $40 were sold at the artificial designer prices of $200 to $600.
Eventually shoppers were told about the shoe company’s hoax and were stunned.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” a shopper exclaimed.
“Are you serious?! … Wait, did I just pay too much?” a shocked party goer said.
The luxury influencers were thanked with a refund and got to keep the products.
“The campaign plays off of the enormous discrepancy and aims to remind consumers we are still a relevant place to shop for affordable fashion,” Sarah Couch, Payless chief marketing officer, told AdWeek.
Payless “wanted to push the social experiment genre to new extremes while simultaneously using it to make a cultural statement,” Doug Cameron, chief creative officer of New York ad company DCX Growth Accelerator, told 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.”
The company, which has an online store as well as about 2,750 stores in North America and more than 3,500 worldwide, emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2017 after more than 670 stores were closed, USA Today reported.
Online response to the “experiment” was mixed though many seemed to appreciate the shoe company’s effort to take on the perception of its brand.
— Janet Thaeler (@NewspaperGrl) November 29, 2018
Payless Opened a Fake Luxury Store, ‘Palessi.’ A commentary on the power of brand image—both positive and negative—and on the discernment—or lack thereof—among fashion influencers. https://t.co/mBKTJ0C5UK
— Patti Williams (@PattiAW) November 28, 2018
Proof that people are snobs. They’ve probably all turned their nose up at Payless before
— Marilyn Walker (@Marilynstablet) November 29, 2018
The Payless experiment is probably my favorite marketing stunt of all time.
— Kyle Harris (@kylesaidthis) November 30, 2018
I love this “social experiment”…nicely done Payless!!!
I have multiple pairs of shoes from Payless and always get compliments…never assume lower price means lack of quality & vice versa – higher price doesn’t always mean higher quality either? https://t.co/cl1P9amu0y
— Maria Luepke (@themarlue) November 30, 2018
This is hilarious. Telling. Emblematic. Sad.
— Free! Mason Jar (@Free_Mason_Jar) November 29, 2018
What does this say about society today? Brilliant marketing @PaylessInsider! Would it have worked in other cities besides cities close to LA or New York CIty?
— CarynLeslie (@CarynLeslie1) November 30, 2018
— Mary Quigley (@excugoaway) November 30, 2018
Will be pronouncing this “Palessi” from now on. pic.twitter.com/Ek76ZOOzBq
— Carribbean Tom (@TomInIndiana) November 30, 2018
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