Payless deserves a Pulitzer

Payless ShoeSource tricked influencers into spending 10x for their discounted shoes, and we all get to watch it unfold. The Hustle Sponsored by Tricking influencers into spending $640 on $35 shoes is the PR stunt 2018 deserves Payless ShoeSource made a fake luxury brand and tricked fashion influencers into spending $640 for their discount kicks […]


November 30, 2018

Payless ShoeSource tricked influencers into spending 10x for their discounted shoes, and we all get to watch it unfold.

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Tricking influencers into spending $640 on $35 shoes is the PR stunt 2018 deserves

Payless ShoeSource made a fake luxury brand and tricked fashion influencers into spending $640 for their discount kicks — an 1,800% markup on shoes that normally retail for around $35.

On the one foot, the publicity stunt showed the only difference between Payless and luxury shoes is a brand name. On the other foot, it proved “expert” fashion influencers can’t tell a discount sneaker from a designer collectible.

Anyone who’s anyone wears… Palessi

All Payless needed to do was rent a former Armani store in Santa Monica with dramatic lighting, launch a fake website with an Italian-sounding name, fill up a fictional Instagram account with stock images, and BOOM — fashion influencers were buzzing with open checkbooks.

The 80 influencers who showed up to the invite-only event bought $3k worth of shoes in the first 3 hours, with many commenting on the fake luxury brand’s “sophisticated” style and “high-quality material.”

Payless reimbursed the ignorant influencers at the end of the event, and now the ShoeSource plans to use the footage of the influencers to create a commercial.

Payless still has sole

The ShoeSource filed for bankruptcy in 2017, and after closing 670 stores it looked like the shoe shop’s laces would stay untied for good.

But after cleaning up its balance sheet, Payless decided to focus on its main strength: Helping parents buy $15 glow-in-the-dark Ninja Turtle velcro shoes in under 10 minutes.

By doubling down on brick-and-mortar budget shoes, Payless managed to emerge from its Chapter 11 more or less unscathed — a rare success story in the scary world of retail bankruptcy.

A different kind of fashion statement

The advertising campaign that will come out of the stunt (created in association with ad agency DCX) will help Payless take on expensive e-commerce competitors like Allbirds or Rothy’s.

“The campaign plays off of the enormous discrepancy [in the fashion industry] and aims to remind consumers we are still a relevant place to shop for affordable fashion,” Payless CMO Sara Couch told Adweek.

So kudos, Payless — out-faking people who are paid to post fake testimonials deserves an Oscar.

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Microsoft wins $480m bid to supply the US Army with its AR headsets

I love the smell of AR in the morning.

Yesterday, Microsoft won a 2-year, $480m military contract with the US government to add its AR headset to the US military’s war chest.

According to a government’s project description, if successful, the contract could result in orders of more than 100k of its HoloLens headsets, to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide, and engage before the enemy.”

Don’t worry, it’s not just for killing

The headsets will also be used for training to kill, as highlighted in one of the bidding contracts, saying the headset would enable “25 bloodless battles before the 1st battle.”

Originally created for consumers, the HoloLens headset has recently made a splash with factory workers for automobile companies like Toyota, Ford, and Daimler.

Of course, the military has some notes on the current hardware, like incorporating night vision and thermal sensing — and, of course, it ain’t a war mask without vital sign and concussion monitoring technology!

A whole new AR-ms race

The bidding process was designed for the Army to work with nontraditional defense contractors: According to Bloomberg, Magic Leap and 25 other companies pursued the contract in some capacity.

The link between big tech and the US military is a hot-button issue. Over the past year, employees at Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have all protested their companies’ bids for government contracts — expect some form of public condemnation from Microsoft employees.

» The art of war is hack

Roam raises $12m to build bionic suits for the people who really need them — tired skiers

Roam, a Silicon Valley robotic exoskeleton company that makes super-suits to help hardcore skiers stay on the slopes longer just raised a $12m Series A.

While other exoskeleton startups build tech to assist people with chronic disabilities and prevent crippling injuries for warehouse employees, Roam’s mission is to help rich vacationers “who are having their experiences cut short” due to ski fatigue.

It’s all downhill for Roam

According to Roam’s site, its new ski product, Elevate, is “targeted toward die-hard skiers who wish to ski longer and stronger and push the edges of what’s possible.” The Elevate will be available for demo use this winter at ski resorts in Lake Tahoe, California, and later Park City, Utah.

But, don’t get too excited to hit the robo-slopes unless you’ve got lots of cash and lots of patience: There’s a waitlist for the first shipment of skeletons, which will cost between $2k and $2.5k.

Clearly there’s a demand…

But the exoskeleton market, expected to hit $2.5B by 2024, is still bigger off the slopes.

Ekso Bionics, which makes products for medical rehabilitation and industrial safety, is already a publicly traded company with partnerships with huge manufacturers like Ford.

» Skele-skiing

Airbnb launches a new division that will begin testing its own prototype homes by 2019

Fast Company reports that Airbnb will begin building its own prototype homes as soon as next year to accommodate the needs of people who rent and share living spaces.

Airbnb will start building and distributing its own prototype homes through the new project, called Backyard, as early as next year. And they’re not just talking about adding guest houses to people’s yards, they’re thinking much bigger.

Own the bnb, own the market

The company already created a home-sharing revolution by establishing a global network of more than 5m homes, castles, and insulated caves (probably) for rent, with its business estimated to be worth $38B.

Apparently, that wasn’t good enough.

In 2016, Airbnb’s chief product officer and co-founder Joe Gebbia started a futures division at the company called Samara to develop new products and services including “green building materials, stand-alone houses, and multi-unit complexes.”

Sky’s the limit

Backyard hasn’t shared a ton of details about what exactly it will build first, but Gebbia has offered hints in the past saying the units will be adaptable to each occupant’s specific needs rather than one, prefabricated model.

If successful, Backyard could very well fast-track Airbnb’s home-rental marketplace by adding “real estate developer” to its resume, as cities continue to restrict the company’s short-term rentals.

As far as the cost of one of these bad boys, well, Gebbia says it’s too early to tell. So… expensive.

» Total housing market domination
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shower thoughts

  1. A funnier title for “The Horse Whisperer” could have been “The Neigh-Sayer.”
  2. Bad things always happen to good people because when bad things happen to bad people, it’s a good thing.
  3. Being healthy is just the slowest possible way of dying.
  4. There are roughly 100 billion neurons in the brain. Jeff Bezos’ net worth is estimated at 137 billion dollars. Jeff Bezos literally has more dollars than brain cells.
  5. Cringing is like the brain equivalent of gagging.
  6. via Reddit
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