Payless Shoe Store had some fun at the expense of social media influencers. As part of a viral ad campaign, the shoe retailer opened a fake luxury store and filled it with its discount shoewear. They created a bespoke shop in a former Armani location in Santa Monica decorated with gold mannequins, soft lighting, model-perfect sales assistants.
They called the brand ‘Paleesi’ and managed to trick fashion influencers into buying shoes they assumed were high end, for up to ten times their list price. Some of the shoes on offer were marked up an eye-watering 1800% – and the fashion influencers still bought in.
The 80 invited influencers spent over $3,000 in marked up kicks in just under 3 hours. Many of the invitees commented on “high-quality material” and “sophisticated styling” of the ‘Paleesi’ shoes.
According to AdWeek, the recorded reactions of the pranked influencers will be a part of an ad campaign to be featured on cable TV and social media. The influencers were also reimbursed for their Paleesi purchases and allowed to keep the shoes.
The ad campaign, created by ad agency DCX Growth Accelerator, is to help Payless take on expensive ecommerce shoe brands like Allbirds and Rothys.
“The campaign plays off of the enormous discrepancy [in the fashion industry] and aims to remind consumers we are still a relevant place to shop for affordable fashion,” Payless CMO Sara Couch told Adweek.
The stunt was a clever play by Payless and their ad agency, and also points out how easily consumers can be duped in the right situation.