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Payless Rebrands as 'Palessi' for Fashion Influencer Prank

DCX Growth Accelerator creates fake luxury store to fool fashionistas

Payless Rebrands as 'Palessi' for Fashion Influencer Prank

Advertising agency DCX Growth Accelerator has created a campaign on behalf of budget shoe retailer Payless that aims to dramatically change perceptions of the brand. It documents how Payless created a fake luxury store named 'Palessi', filled it with Payless shoes that normally retail between $19.99 and $39.99 and managed to sell these shoes to fashionistas for prices up to $640.

The campaign launches with a 30-second spot in English and Spanish followed by 15-second and 06-second spots each featuring a real-world fashionista speaking about the superior quality of Palessi shoes and then registering shock upon learning that the shoes are in fact from Payless.

“Payless has gone to great lengths to create a portfolio of fashionable and high-quality shoes, but perceptions of the brand lag far behind this,” explains Sara Couch, CMO, Payless. “The campaign plays off the enormous discrepancy and aims to remind consumers we are still a relevant place to shop for affordable fashion.”

The spots capture fashionistas on camera paying for shoes marked up by not just a small amount but by 1,800%. When they learn that the shoes are from Payless, their faces register not just surprise but shock. The campaign is entertaining in part because of how thoroughly the Palessi branding persuades the fashionistas that the shoes are luxury items worth their enormous price tags and in part because of just how shocked they are to learn that it’s Payless.

The multi-million dollar integrated marketing campaign is airing now on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and North American cable networks including BET, Bravo, ION, Lifetime, MTV, TBS, Telemundo and USA and will continue to run throughout the holiday season.

“We wanted to push the social experiment genre to new extremes while simultaneously using it to make a cultural statement,” added Doug Cameron, chief creative officer of DCX Growth Accelerator. “Payless customers share a pragmatic point of view, and we thought it would be provocative to use this ideology to challenge today’s image-conscious fashion influencer culture. The ‘gotcha’ genre works particularly well for Payless because there is a discrepancy between how the influencers see the shoes and how they see the Payless brand.”

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Advertiser: Payless

Chief Marketing Officer: Sara Couch

Marketing Director: Bernardo Meza

Creative Director: Jeff Vandeven

Creative Agency

Creative Agency: DCX Growth Accelerator

Executive Creative Director: Tommy Noonan

Chief Creative Officer: Doug Cameron

Creative Director: Mauricio Alarcon

Concept: Doug Cameron and Tommy Noonan

Account Director: Patrick McCormick

Creative Services Manager: Cheri Bernand

Production Company

Production Company: DCX Cultural Studios

DOP: Shane Collins

Production Co-ordinator: Jonathan D. Ortiz

Line Producer: Kelly Scott

1st AD: Doug Cameron, Tommy Noonan

Executive Producers: David Logan

Production Manager: Jerry terHorst

Production Designer: Ricardo Jattan


Edit Company: Beast Editorial NYC

Editor: Brian Sanford

Edit Assistant: Joseph D’Amato, Christian Matts

Producer: Michael Beltrame

Executive Producer: Melissa Lubin

Post Production / VFX

Colourist: Lez Rudge @ Chimney

Conform Artist: Scott Bravo @ Beast


Audio Mix: Peter Holcomb @ Sound Lounge

Category: Clothing/fashion , Shoes