A mini runway lined with high-heeled shoes glistens in bright neon light. Shoes of various kinds sit neatly in individual glass shelves. A statue of an angel with several shopping bags stands in the middle while Los Angeles fashionistas walk around, trying on shoes, posing on the red carpet and drinking champagne served in tall, slender glasses. Palessi, a new luxury brand of shoes designed by the Italian Designer Bruno Palessi.
"I would pay $ 400, $ 500. People will like," Where did you get that from? She tried on a pair of light golden sneakers with leopard print.
The woman did not really buy a Palessi because there is no such brand, and there is no Bruno Palessi.
However, Payless ShoeSource ̵
"We thought this campaign would be a great way to get a lot of people thinking about Payless again, and to know that it's more than just a shoe store in the mall," said Sarah Couch, payless's chief marketing officer ,
However, the prank also points to a reality of the human mind: consumers can not recognize the quality and value of the things they buy, said Philip Graves, a UK consumer adviser. Beat a fancy-sounding European label on $ 30 shoes, and you have the illusion of paying the status that people will pay an exorbitant amount of money for.
"We value things via associations beautiful bottle, people like it more, if you pack things up to make them look more premium, people will like it more," Graves said. "If advertising has high production qualities, people will think it's better."
The campaign is the brainchild of a ten-member advertising company in Brooklyn. DCX Growth Accelerator specializes in large media outlets or what the company calls "cultural hacking". A few weeks ago, the company had registered its idea with Payless, who had pre-counted an advertising campaign before Christmas. DCX explored Payless's first achievements, so the momentum has come to a standstill and what he can do to reverse the brand, said Doug Cameron, who founded DCX in 2015. Payless closed hundreds of stores last year and fired thousands of employees.  "We wanted to do something provocative, we wanted to bring Payless back into the cultural discourse," Cameron said.
First, the team needed a place for the wrong launch party and found that it was the perfect one: a former Giorgio Armani store on Santa Monica Place, a high-end mall that houses stores like Louis Vuitton, Barneys, Michael Kors and Tiffany & Co. are housed. The team rented the room for six weeks.
Second, they needed a name. and they wanted something that sounded like Payless. One of the first ideas was a Brooklyn-based upscale boutique called Eli Pass. Finally, the team decided on an Italian theme. They changed the letters in Eli Pass and added Palessi.
"I think Bruno came later," Cameron said about the name of the fictional designer.
They hired an interior designer to create an authentic, luxurious look to the launch party, as well as people who would act as salespeople. They brought golden mannequins with them, put up shopping bags of white paper and installed the angel statue with large wings in the middle. To further the matter, without revealing the joke, Cameron said they had gold statues of lions and a giraffe curled up.
The team said that most of what was already in the store, such as the glass shelves, was stored in. They carefully arranged stilettos, pumps, sneakers, boots and leather shoes. They covered the original branded labels with "PALESSI" stickers in clean, black letters and beat price tags up to $ 1,800.
The team also created an Instagram account and filled it with captionless and random images of models and stilettos. They bought and created a website that was mostly empty except for the images of two stilettos on mannequin hands.
Finally, they needed potential consumers. Cameron calls it "Real Person Casting". They searched the streets and the Internet for social media influences, fashionable people who looked like they were likely to attend this kind of event.
"As we thought it would be a new store, brand and owner looking for some feedback," Cameron said.
On the day of the launch, October 27, unsuspecting participants stood outside. The DCX and Payless team used the back of the store as a control room, equipped with monitors connected to video cameras. When people arrived, paid interviewers and cameramen asked what they thought about their shoes and how much they would pay. Cameron and his team were in the background, dictating questions through microphones.
"Palessi is so high-quality, up-to-date and takes your shoe game to the next level," said a man who wore spiked necklaces and held a tall tail -stretched, knee-high boots "It looks really good."
"It's just stunning, sleek, sophisticated and versatile," said one woman, holding a pair of flower stiletto heels.
"For me as an Italian designer is amazing," said another man with an accent.
After the participants had bought overpriced shoes – some for $ 200, $ 400 and $ 600 – they were taken to the back room where the prank was revealed. "
" You must kidnap me, "said the woman […] The team said those who bought the shoes could keep them free.
Cat Chang, a diamond designer from Los Angeles, She said she did not buy any shoes because she had already bought a few pairs a few days earlier, but she would have done if she had found a pair of her size.
"We would have it never known. We were really convinced, "said Chang, who said she was paid to attend the event." They made us fool, altogether. "
Chang said that experience has led them to reassess Payless She plans to visit a store soon.
Graves, consumer consumer adviser from the UK, said the ad campaign will have some short-term benefits for Payless, but he does not believe that would hurt established luxury brands. [19659002"Consumershavepaidenormouslyinflatedprices"hesaid"Someofthepleasureswegetfromthingswebuycomefromthemoneywespendonthem"
He does not hold either Sophisticated prank that Payless has termed as an "integrated multi-million marketing campaign" has a lasting impact on the retailer's brand.
"The next time someone enters a payless-charging If he does, he will go into the ordinary payless environment and see the usual payless rates, "he said – not fancy, glamorous. Red Carpet Shop in Los Angeles
Couch, Chief Marketing Officer of Payless, hopes Graves will be wrong. She said there is more to payless than physical business deals.
"The shopping experience on payless.com is different from the business … It's the fastest growing business," she said. "Business is an incredibly valuable part of the business, but the digital side is the focus of the campaign."