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In only a few hours, the company sold about $3,000 worth of shoes.
The employees eventually did tell shoppers that the products were Payless shoes, but not before some customers described the footwear as "elegant and sophisticated." Those shoppers, who USA Today said were real people and not actors, apparently were surprised at the revelation.
Payless didn't keep the marked up money and refunded the purchases to the shoppers, but the videos that were shot during operation will be used as commercials and on YouTube. The shoppers also get to keep the shoes, Fortune reported.
An ad company worked with Payless on the ruse, USA Today reported.
Doug Cameron, who worked on the campaign for DCX Growth Accelerator, said Payless “wanted to push the social experiment genre to new extremes, while simultaneously using it to make a cultural statement.”