Shoe marketing just got sneakier and smarter. Last week, Payless ShoeSource tricked a group of influencers into believing their shoes belonged to a new, high-quality brand. They fell for the experiment and the shoe company achieved their goal of proving their shoes are both budget-friendly and stylish.
Payless went all out and opened a pop-up store in LA, which showcased Palessi — a fake brand they created. The event was so exclusive that the only way in was through an invite. All of the event’s details remained a secret to all others. Payless even created a sleek website for this holiday ad campaign, fooling everyone who knew about it. The location and hours read “By invitation only :)” on the site, with “firstname.lastname@example.org” as the contact email address.
After the matter, Payless came clean and posted a video on their social media accounts about the clever stunt. In the short clip, social media influencers aka customers, are seen gushing over the footwear. It also helps that the “store” space was modern-looking and glamorous, with black and white accents details, and a statue resembling something like a Roman sculpture.
“We built a fake luxury store in Los Angeles and filled it with Payless Shoes. The guests at our grand opening party had no idea,” stated Payless’ voiceover in the opening of their video ad, claiming no actors were used, just “real people.” “They’re elegant, sophisticated,” said one influencer, as she admired a black floral heel. “I can tell it was made with high-quality material,” said another, holding a black sneaker.
“These fashionistas actually paid $200, $400, and even $600 for Payless shoes,” the video continued. “But you can get these same shows at Payless for $19.99 or lower with our epic holiday deals.” Don’t worry though, in the end, everyone involved got their money back and were able to keep the shoes. They could’ve fooled us!