Payless achieved something that is the makings of viral internet history. They opened a fake upscale boutique at a mall in Los Angeles and called it “Palessi”. At the store, Payless sold their usual discount footwear at a markup of 1,800% to 60 fashion social media influencers.
The event was memorialized on video, and Payless is using the footage to create a series of ads. The angle is that their shoes are just as good as the high-end footwear. In fact, they’re so good that they could fool people into thinking they were far more expensive than they are.
While these social media influencers shelled out upwards of $500 for a $20 pair of shoes, after revealing to them that they had been duped, Payless gave them their money back and allowed them to keep whatever footwear they bought for free.
The real gold for the shoe company was the footage.
Some were here for it.
I generally don’t like marketing deception but this one is educational will save people tons of money . Some believe cost equals quality
— Jim Kelly (@Kelly2573Jim) November 29, 2018
Well done Payless! 😁
— SLM 🇨🇦 (@sarsa72) November 29, 2018
Genius marketing strategy in my opinion!
— Kevin McCloskey (@kevmcclosk) November 29, 2018
This is great!
— Hank Emerson (@henrymemerson) November 30, 2018
Some had harsh words for the ‘influencer’ culture.
the things people do to appear to have status :/ sad
— ☁️ (@yasssemily) November 29, 2018
— anonymous hippopotamus (@cjmark810) November 29, 2018
Suckas smh. When the rich do anything to look rich.
— kchansie (@KchanSIE) November 30, 2018
But that received some incisive push back and sympathy for those who were fooled.
While this is an interesting social experiment, deception is not good for branding. It’s a rather cheap attempt at shaming buyers who are not your target audience to begin with, dont you think?
— Carmen (@carmenleander) November 30, 2018
Many criticized the system in which brand names earn big bucks for simply having a ‘name’ attached to it.
That’s the best way to do it. A lot of the designer stuff is the same just higher price tag because corporations are greedy. There’s a show about it. If you have the time/interest you should watch Adam Ruins Everything if you haven’t. It changed my life. Facts + funny.
— raised by gypsies 🌪🥑🌮 (@raisedbygypsies) November 29, 2018
haha yeah cuz those same high end shoes look just like payless shoes with a brand name on em pic.twitter.com/W0xMCfPFfg
— JAY🇵🇷🤙 (@amjay718) November 29, 2018
Once again proving the empty shallowness of fashion. It’d be even funnier if they’d named themselves Paymori.
— ThatMarkBrazill (@themarkbrazill) November 29, 2018
I walked through the men’s shoe department at neiman Marcus a few years ago and came across the hideous camouflage flip flops..but JUST because it had Gucci written on it they were $350!! You take the name off and people wouldn’t spen $5 for them
— Jason fisher (@Fishgolf13) November 30, 2018
We have to hand it to Payless. This was pretty brilliant.