B&Q admits leaked FSoG memo was a PR stunt
Posted: February 12, 2015
ETO doffs its cap to DIY chain B&Q, which has now revealed that its much-leaked internal memo – warning staff to “be prepared” for an influx of new customers following the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey film – was just a PR stunt.
The memo said that store managers should ensure they had sufficient stock of rope, duct tape and cable ties and that staff should familiarise themselves with the book, copies of which head office would be sending to stores for this purpose. The memo added that customers for these products should be assisted in a “polite, helpful and respectful” manner and also advised staff to use “a level of discretion” when dealing with such enquiries.
The memo was taken at face value by The Guardian, The Mirror, The Daily Mail and the UK Press Association and it was also reported by ETO. B&Q has now said: “We can confirm that the leaked memo was indeed a bit of fun. Both B&Q, the public and the media have been entertained over the past few days and we are looking forward to a big weekend. We would have confessed to this sooner, but our hands were tied.”
The fake – but pretty convincing – memo read as follows:
Staff Briefing – preparation for Fifty Shades of Grey customer queries overview
Following the film release of Fifty Shades of Grey, B&Q employees may encounter increased customer product queries relating to rope, cable ties and masking or duck tape. Store Managers should anticipate the need for extra stock and store staff should read the following brief to prepare them to handle potentially sensitive customer questions.
What is happening?
On Saturday 14th February 2015 popular erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey will be released as a film and is expected to do well in the Box Office. Written by EL James, the story follows the relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young, successful business man, Christian Grey, who introduces her to the world of bondage and dominant/submissive sexual role play.
Preview footage depicts a notable scene from the book where Christian Grey visits a hardware store to purchase rope, cable ties and tape. Rather than bought for home improvement purposes, these products are intended to fulfil Mr Grey’s unconventional sexual pursuits.
Why does it affect us?
As the UK’s leading DIY store, we stock many of the products featured in this notable scene and then used later in the film. When the book was released in 2012 DIY and hardware stores in the UK and US reported increased demand of certain products and queries from customers as they tried to recreate their own ‘Fifty Shades’ experiences. We need to be prepared for the same effect when the film is released this month.
It is always B&Q’s policy that products should only be used for their designed purposes. Nevertheless, all staff should read this briefing notice to prepare for potentially sensitive customer enquiries and managers need to be aware of the implications that the film may have on stock levels.
All staff are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the content of Fifty Shades of Grey by reading the novel or watching the film upon its release. Copies of the book will be delivered to each store and can be loaned to staff on a one week basis. Understanding the storyline and how some products that B&Q stock feature in the film will better prepare staff for incoming queries.
Queries may be unusual and sensitive in nature but staff are reminded of B&Q’s commitment to assist customers in a polite, helpful and respectful manner. A level of discretion is also advised.
Store managers are requested to monitor stock levels of rope, cable ties, masking tape and duck tape to ensure that supplies do not run low. Fifty Shades of Grey is released in cinemas on Saturday 14th February 2015 and the busiest sales periods for these products are expected to run from Sunday 15th February to Sunday 1st March 2015 with a focus on weekend trading.
The date for the DVD and home entertainment release of Fifty Shades of Grey is yet to be confirmed but a second briefing may be issued closer to that time.
Staff are asked to keep the contents of this briefing within the company. If you have any questions or concerns relating to the contents of this briefing please speak to your regional manager.