How Payless shoes duped influencers into spending $600 on $20 shoes with 'Palessi' store.

When it comes to fashion, we’ve all been guilty of drinking the Kool-Aid and falling for branding and marketing hype over actual substance, and this stunt by US company, Payless  proves it.

The budget shoe retailer, who has no affiliation with Aussie company Payless Shoes, opened a fake luxury footwear store in LA’s Santa Monica under the re-branded name ‘Palessi.’ They completed the ruse with a glamourous store fit out with Roman statues and spray-painted sculptures and launched their brand with a champagne-filled party.

They invited some of LA’s well-heeled fashion set and influencers to buy the shoes, with some paying $200, $400 and $600 for what were essentially $20 heels and $40 boots.

They were none the wiser. Because people are silly.

However, after spending a few hours duping their party-goers and influencers, Payless divulged their cheeky prank and everybody got their money back and were gifted the shoes to wear forever more.

To go with their ‘Palessi campaign,’ the brand also shared a video which featured their guests extolling the wonderful features of Palessi shoes.

“Palessi is just such high-quality, high-fashion, it’s taking your shoe game to the next level,” said one guest.

“Elegant, sophisticated and versatile,” shared another.


“I could definitely wear this to the Met Gala dinner,” said another guest.

Watch the influencers fall for the ad, hook, line and sinker… 

Video by AdWeek

The ad has since gone viral with the video appearing on Good Morning America and US’ Today Show. 

And of course, Twitter has praised the elaborate prank.

“Whoever came up with this idea deserves a raise,” wrote one Instagram commenter.



However, while it’s all too easy to laugh at the mistake of these poor influencers, and you can bet we did indeed laughed, it’s a trap most of us fall into everyday ourselves.

Just count this as a friendly reminder that hype and substance aren’t the same thing.

Would you have fallen for the trick? What do you think of the stunt? Tell us in a comment below.

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