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Payless, the no-frills footwear giant that’s known for its fashion-forward designs at dirt cheap prices, proved that there’s a lot in a name with its latest marketing ploy. Last week, Payless set up a pop-up boutique in a shopping centre in Los Angeles and invited a bunch of fashion influencers to shop the collection, but in order to get the who’s who of style in SoCal to show up, the brand had to basically trick them. The reality is, no street style icon is going to admit to wearing Payless shoes, but they will admit to wearing ‘Palessi’.

Yes, Palessi. Payless changed all of its branding in the fake boutique to Palessi and convinced a room full of people that its budget-friendly kicks were worth hundreds of dollars rather than the average $20 to $40 per pair.

“We created a Palessi website as an ad so it would show up if people Googled it. We couldn’t let them find out it didn’t exist. The Payless labels were disguised as Palessi, the lighting was perfect, there was a velvet rope for photos and Palessi shopping bags,” Doug Cameron, chief creative officer at DCX told Adweek. “We had camera crews, which would be natural for a store opening on that level. We wanted everything to reflect an L.A. luxury environment.”

 

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Gorgeous. #palessi

A post shared by Palessi (@palessi_shoes) on

When guests arrived, there was no outdated orange and light blue Payless logo in sight, nor shelves stacked with paper boxes filled with shoes. Instead, the footwear was presented on pedestals and in glass displays with a sleek all-caps black logo.

“I can tell it was made with high-quality material,” says one guest musing over a sneaker in a video that was released by Payless. The fake rebrand certainly worked in that it tricked consumer into believing that its products were high-end. Some people reportedly spent $640 USD on a single pair of Payless shoes–a 1,800 per cent markup!

 

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A post shared by Palessi (@palessi_shoes) on

The brand raked in over $3,000 USD before letting folks in on the gag. Everyone was refunded and ended up getting to keep the shoes, too. There’s no way of telling whether these influencers will actually wear the footwear now that they know it’s Payless and not Palessi, but maybe the stunt will make some rethink the way that they spend.