Payless taught fashion influencers a lesson about shoes by opening a fake store that sold Main Street kicks at Madison Avenue prices.
Payless ShoeSource held a fake launch party in Santa Monica, California, for the bogus label "Palessi" and invited fashionistas to sample the seemingly expensive merchandise. The VIP shoppers paid as much as $645 for shoes that sell from $19.99 to $39.99 at Payless.
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.
The store rang up $3,000 before Payless came clean with the reveal. One shopper exclaimed, "Shut up! Are you serious?"
The pranked shoppers got their money back and were allowed to keep the shoes.
“The campaign ... aims to remind consumers we are still a relevant place to shop for affordable fashion,” Payless Chief Marketing Officer Sarah Couch told Adweek.
Doug Cameron, DCX Growth Accelerator’s chief creative officer, added that Payless "wanted to push the social experiment genre to new extremes" and "challenge today’s image-conscious fashion influencer culture.”
The shoppers' reactions will be featured in a series of commercials.