Matt Rubel left the top job at pricey luxury footwear brand Cole Haan to take the top job at low-end footwear chain Payless ShoeSource. And, no surprise, he made some changes.
Honored with the 2008 M. B. Zale Visionary Merchant Award by the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University, Rubel lectured recently at the university, which honored him for reinventing the Payless brand.
One of his big ideas was to forge an emotional connection between shoppers and their footwear. This idea lead to the new Payless tag line: “I Love Shoes,” with the word “love” represented by a “funky, orange heart,” according to the Retailing Center’s newsletter.
Payless stores got a new look under Rubel’s leadership, too. “Where the store once was defined by economy, sometimes to the detriment of style,” the newsletter notes, “Rubel’s Payless is, in a word, sexy.” In commercials Rubel showed his student audience, models who were tanned and fit danced, flirted, surfed, skated and shopped to lively music while showing off their designer shoes.
And, yes, that’s right. Payless does sell designer shoes now.