Payless Goes Back to School With M/W

CHICAGO Martin/Williams uses humor to sell Payless ShoeSource during the back-to-school season in its first work for the retailer.

In the first of two television spots, which break on national broadcast and cable networks this week, a pair of college-age women try to figure out how to fit a pile of Payless shoe boxes into an already packed car headed for college. After pondering the situation for a while, the spot ends with the women driving away in the car, having left the backseat behind. A voiceover closes the spot: “School’s in. Get in. Payless.”

A second spot shows a woman changing from heels to flats as she discovers her blind date is shorter than she expected. “Wedges for you and flats for him,” says a voiceover before announcing a “buy one get one half-off” promotion.

Though the spots are the first advertising from the Omnicom Group agency since winning the account in March, executives have said the work is only a step toward a larger brand campaign, expected in early 2006.

“These two spots are the first steps in an ongoing brand evolution that will get people thinking differently about Payless,” said Tom Moudry, president and chief creative officer of the Minneapolis agency in a statement. “When it comes to what women love, shoes rank right up there with diamonds, chocolate and flowers. We have a tremendous opportunity to develop that same emotional connection with the Payless brand on future seasonal campaigns.”

Payless, based in Topeka, Kan., spent $70 million on ads last year and $40 million through June 2005, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The company spent nearly $15 million during last year’s back-to-school season, according to Nielsen.