Our coverage for B&Q wasn’t exactly black and white, more fifty shades of grey


With the film of Fifty Shades of Grey due for release and key scenes taking place in a DIY store, we identified a unique opportunity to connect B&Q to the launch. The idea was simple. We engineered a ‘leak’ of an internal memo, advising all B&Q staff to swot up on the Fifty Shades story line and expect customers’ questions regarding unconventional uses of certain DIY products, creating a sense of controversy and intrigue among media and the general public. 

Written firmly with tongue in cheek, it advised that “Queries may be unusual and sensitive…but staff are reminded of B&Q’s commitment to assist customers in a polite, helpful and respectful manner…”. It then went on to advise that copies of the book would be sent to stores for staff to borrow. 

Perfectly timed to coincide with the increasing noise around the film we landed blanket broadcast coverage in national media before going global. In 48 hours we have achieved more than 23 pieces of coverage with broadcast highlights including ITV’s Lorraine and Loose Women, Sky News Sunrise, Capital FM Heart FM, The Today programme on BBC Radio 4, LBC, TalkSport and Reuters. B&Q confirmed the story was its biggest in its 46 years of trading, reaching nearly 40 million UK adults (the equivalent to 78% of the population).

Unprompted brand recall jumped to 98% from 93% week on week and B&Q saw an unprecedented increase in footfall to store the week following the campaign. The success of the idea was summed-up by one national newspaper editor who simply tweeted “The PR’s are winning.”