Before we get started, let it be known that Payless is an affordable priced shoe retailer. And while anyone who's ever stepped foot in a US shopping centre will know its name, some people are seemingly less familiar with the brand due to the rise of online shopping.
At least, that would appear to be the outcome of a recent marketing stunt pulled by the company.
This week, Payless managed to dupe a whole load of 'fashion-savvy' influencers into paying hundreds of dollars for its budget shoes.
Revealed to be part of an advertising campaign, the company opened a 'luxury boutique' named Palessi (genius) and tricked attendants into paying between $200 (£157) and $600 (£471) for shoes that are actually worth $20 (£16) to $40 (£31). The highest bidder for a pair was $640 (£502).
How did they do this? By hosting the grand opening at a former Los Angeles Armani store, enticing a load of social media influencers with a red carpet entrance, and serving champagne and the promise of high-end products.
And the plot worked - not only did these so-called fashionistas lap up the shoes, buying $3,000 (£2,352) worth of product in the first few hours, but they were also caught on camera stating things like, "They are elegant (and) sophisticated," and, "I could tell it's made with high-quality material."
No sooner had they nailed their pitch, than Palessi a.k.a. Payless pulled the rug from under the eager buyers by revealing they'd been fawning over thrifty footgear. "You've got to be kidding me," said the same woman who'd previously described the shoes as 'elegant' and 'sophisticated'.
Payless are using the hilarious video testimonials as commercials on social media and TV. Although it looks like a plan to expose social media influencers, the company said it was all a 'social experiment' to highlight the relevance of affordable fashion.
Speaking to AdWeek, Payless CMO Sarah Couch said: "The campaign plays off of the enormous discrepancy and aims to remind consumers we are still a relevant place to shop for affordable fashion."
It's worth noting that the discount footwear chain emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2017, having closed more than 670 stores. However, this recent stunt has certainly helped the company, and at the very least has a lot of people talking about a shop that was otherwise fading into the background.
Champion trolling, if we do say so ourselves.
Featured Image Credit: Payless