Social Experiment Explores How We View The Fabulous

First impressions are everything they say.

And, most of us tend to take things at face value.

So, Payless Shoes wanted to do a ‘social experiment.’ 

The longtime value shoe store hired an advertising agency, DCX Growth Accelerator, to take over a boutique in Los Angeles and retool it as a fake luxury brand – "Palessi."

The store front was designed to look very high-end fashion-forward and filled with Payless shoes that normally retail for $19.99 – $39.99.

The ad company then invited social media fashion influencers to a ‘grand opening’ to get their take on the shoes.

The reaction? The fashion insiders were eager to snap up the kicks paying $300, $400, up to $600 a pair.

Along the way, Payless interviewed the fashionistas who gushed about the quality, design and materials.

And then, they revealed the truth.

Check out Good Morning America's take on the experiment:



Now, to be clear, Payless did refund all the money AND they let the insiders keep the shoes they had ‘purchased.’

The chief creative officer at DCX Growth Accelerator, Doug Cameron, told Good Morning America the idea was "to push the social experiment genre to new extremes, while simultaneously using it to make a cultural statement.”

“Payless customers share a pragmatist point of view, and we thought it would be provocative to use this ideology to challenge today’s image-conscious fashion influencer culture," he added.

While it’s an interesting episode in marketing, the story stuck with this writer in terms of how social media imaging is being used more and more to create an impression of what folks want us to believe.

Lately, it seems social media isn't always about sharing an opinion or experience, but creating the illusion of one.

Whether it's those amazingly hot guys on Instagram we follow for a bit of eye-candy, or the Russian bots that fed folks what they wanted to read about the candidate they either loved or hated during an election cycle.

Or, maybe the cool guys across the gym that look like they have it all going on, but maybe not…?

The reaction to the campaign has been pretty positive across the board. Reading comments on YouTube, you see a lot of “I absolutely LOVE this.”

I don’t know if that’s because viewers revel in seeing folks being fooled?

Or, if there’s comfort in finding out that, for most of us, our every day lives really are just great (without a high sticker price).

A few years ago, my husband and I were furnishing our new house. And while we spent money where we felt we wanted to be sure of long-lasting value, we also mixed in a few pieces from Target that seemed fine and fit right in.

Over the years, and I laugh as I write this, it's often the Target furniture pieces that visitors note and compliment.

Is there a lesson here?

Maybe we should just pick up that shoe we think we like (or shirt, or car, or politician, or potential new boyfriend/girlfriend), flip it over, see how it feels, and how we feel about it.

How we feel about it.

Things that make you go “hmm…”





The opinions expressed here reflect those of the author and not of Instinct or its other contributors.

(h/t GMA)

What do you think?