Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

Trending from G/L: Payless Becomes ‘Palessi’ For New Awareness Campaign

“Real people, not actors.”

It’s a disclaimer you have seen before. Maybe you recall Chevrolet’s “Real People, Not Actors” campaign that kicked off in 2016, or the parody follow-up ad by Progressive titled “Real Actors, Not People.

Now, adding to the trend of ‘tricking people into saying great things about your brand’ is the Payless Shoesource “Palessi” campaign which has marketers, fashionistas, and influencers talking.

With the help of advertising agency DCX Growth Accelerator, Payless opened a fake luxury brand and storefront, which they named Palessi, and invited VIP fashion influencers to the opening. Payless marked up their bargain shoes – up to 1,800 percent – in order to shift consumers’ perceptions of the brand. These influencers then paid up to $645 for footwear that rings up in a Payless store for $19.99. Then, these real people were captured remarking on the quality of the shoes’ design and creation, before being unveiled to that they were actually from Payless.

One shopper described her purchase of a stiletto heel as “It’s just stunning. Elegant, sophisticated.”

Another said, “I can tell it was made with high-quality material.”

Payless “wanted to push the social experiment genre to new extremes, while simultaneously using it to make a cultural statement,” Doug Cameron, chief creative officer of New York ad company DCX Growth Accelerator, told AdWeek.

In August of 2017, Payless emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy after closing 670 stores.

“The campaign plays off of the enormous discrepancy and aims to remind consumers we are still a relevant place to shop for affordable fashion,” Payless CMO Sarah Couch told AdWeek.

After the fashion influencers were told of the Payless retail price, they were given a full refund and were allowed to keep their shoes, even though many of them still had their foot in their mouth…