Who would be willing to pay upward of $500 for Payless shoes?
Hoodwinked social media influencers, that’s who.
Payless shoes aren’t exactly synonymous with high fashion. But for one night in Los Angeles, they were.
The shoe company set up a fake luxury store called “Palessi,” stocked it with Payless shoes, and invited fashion influencers to check out the collection at a “grand opening party.”
The store had a high-end look and feel, but the shoes on the shelf were the same ones that normally retail for prices between $19.99 and $39.99, according to the company.
The prank worked perfectly. A video ad shows the guests purchasing the shoes for hundreds of dollars. One person even paid $640 for a pair.
“I would pay $400 or $500,” a woman says in a TV ad, holding a pair of $19.99 sneakers. Another shopper calls the Payless shoes “elegant and sophisticated.”
The stunt even included a sleek website and an Instagram account.
About 80 influencers attended over two nights, according to Payless. They shelled out a total of $3,000.
One shopper spent $640 for a pair of boots, which represented a 1,800% markup.
Payless, however, returned their money and let them keep the shoes. Payless said the influencers were paid a small stipend to attend.
Payless said the social experiment was meant to remind shoppers that Payless’ affordable shoes are fashionable too.
“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 CMO Sarah Couch.