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 spot in English and Spanish followed by :15 and :06 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 multimillion-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.”

Agency: DCX Growth Accelerator, Brooklyn, New York (USA)

Concept: Doug Cameron and Tommy Noonan

CCO/CW: Doug Cameron

ECD/Art Director: Tommy Noonan

CD: Mauricio Alarcon

Account Director: Patrick McCormick


Production Company: DCX Cultural Studios

Director/Executive Producer: David Logan

Assistant Directors: Doug Cameron, Tommy Noonan

Line Producer: Kelly Scott

Production Manager: Jerry terHorst

Production Coordinator: Jonathan D. Ortiz

Production Designer: Ricardo Jattan

Director of Photography: Shane Collins

Camera Operator: Andrew Sanchez

1st AD: Cody Boessen


Editorial: Beast Editorial NYC

Sr. Editor: Brian Sanford

Executive Producer: Melissa Lubin

Post Producer: Michael Beltrame

Assistant Editor: Joseph D’Amato

After Effects: Christian Matts

Colorist: Lez Rudge w/ Chimney


Audio Mix: Peter Holcomb (Sound Lounge)

Online Conform:  Scott Bravo (Beast)


Client: Payless

CMO: Sara Couch

VP Marketing: Lisa Contino

Creative Director: Jeff Vandeven

Creative Services Manager: Cheri Bernand

International Marketing Director: Bernardo Meza

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Tuelay's picture

How was it possible for the Influencers to appear in the ad? Have they given their consent? If I were in their shoes (hehe) I would avoid appearing in the ad since it would kinda harm my reputation as an influencer. Though I find it fascinating to blindly promote products.

Dabitch's picture

> Have they given their consent?

You're not from around here, are you?

Of course, they have to sign off for the ad and they get handsomely rewarded for their appearance. The pay varies from state to state, but it's usually a nice chunk of change. Every time you see ads with surprised "real people not actors", know they were paid for it.

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