Payless Tricks Social Media Influencers into Paying Haute Couture Prices for Discount Shoes


Payless, disguised as fictional high fashion brand “Palessi,” invited Instagram personalities to make offers on their footwear.

In a new advertising campaign, Payless attempts to make a statement about the quality of its craftsmanship by trying to convince the would-be online socialites that $19.99 pumps and $39.99 boots are worth far more — and it worked.

Guests reportedly raved about the shoes. One called them “elegant, sophisticated.” Another claimed she “could tell [the product] was made out of high-quality material.” Within a few hours, “Palessi” had sold thousands of dollars in footwear. One guest offered a whopping $640 for a pair.

After the reveal, attendees expressed their surprise: “Are you serious?! … Wait, did I just pay too much?” Payless then gave out the chosen shoes to the influencers for free. Of course, some who saw the ad were unimpressed with the gimmick, pointing out that being popular on social media does not grant fashion expertise.

“The campaign plays off of the enormous discrepancy and aims to remind consumers we are still a relevant place to shop for affordable fashion,” said Payless chief marketing officer Sarah Couch. Doug Cameron, chief creative officer of New York ad company DCX Growth Accelerator, told AdWeek that Payless “wanted to push the social experiment genre to new extremes while simultaneously using it to make a cultural statement.”

Payless was on the rocks in 2017, but emerged from their August bankruptcy with 670 fewer locations, but approximately 3,500 stores still in operation worldwide.


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