​Hardware Store's '50 Shades' Memo Readies Employees for Kinky Customers

B&Q 50 Shades of Grey memo

What do you do if you’re a large British DIY hardware company preparing for the global release of Fifty Shades of Grey? If you’re big-box retailer B&Q, you send out a memo to your employees warning them to "expect potentially sensitive questions" regarding "rope, cable ties, and masking or duct tape.” Not only that, you offer to deliver copies of the best-selling novel to all of your stores for employees to borrow — but only on a “one-week basis.”


The leaked corporate memo — titled “Staff Briefing — Preparation for Fifty Shades of Grey Customer Queries" — went out to 20,887 B&Q employees a few days ago, and it warned store managers to “anticipate the need for extra stock.” Staff were advised to read the following:


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 E.L. 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 fulfill Mr Grey's unconventional sexual pursuits.


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.

The memo goes on to encourage staff to get familiar with the content of the book, because “understanding the storyline and how some products that B&Q stock feature in the film will better prepare staff for incoming queries.” To that end, the head office plans to deliver copies of the book to be loaned out on a one-week basis (don’t bogart, guys, and for god’s sake, return them in the sanitized manner in which they were distributed).

More from The Stir: '50 Shades of Grey': 16 Stages You'll Go Through When You See the Movie (GIFS)

Employees were warned that some questions may be “unusual and sensitive in nature,” and they should be polite, helpful, and above all: DISCREET.

Well, if you’re thinking this is all just a little too good to be true, it is: B&Q has admitted the memo is a fake. I’m a bit disappointed (THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS, CORPORATE PRANKSTERS), but I do admire their cheeky statement:

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.

Oh you rascals, you. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that this memo prompted my inner goddess to do the merengue with some salsa moves — but she has perhaps leaped up cheering from her chaise lounge.


Image via Universal

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