GET YOUR VALENTINE’S DAY SUPPLIES….FROM B&Q?

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If you’re like me then the thought of getting presented with a fluffy teddy-bear and a box of chocolates will make you cringe.  However, with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, you simply can’t avoid billboards stamped with romantic adverts, restaurants offering extortionate dining rates, never-ending TV adverts and florists charging a small fortune.

Valentine’s Day has long been a marketeer’s dream and this year is no exception: the Co-Operative has launched a heart-warming televised advert, going head-to-head with Morrison’s, M&S and Waitrose in encouraging a romantic Valentine’s night in with their ‘meal for two’ deals.  The likes of Harvey Nichols are offering extravagant dining, Lastminute.com has issued a cheeky, blush-worthy advert recommending various European cities for a romantic getaway and card companies are also raking in the cash, with Moonpig offering a free card with a £25 bunch of roses.

Overshadowing all of this, however, is the much-anticipated release of the world-wide phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey on 13 February, just in time for Valentine’s Day – canny timing.  After the success of the book trilogy, which outsold Harry Potter, it’s no surprise that the film’s upcoming release has led to sold-out cinema bookings with tickets being bought at a rate of one every seven seconds according to Odeon.

And it’s not just the box office and merchandise stores that are cashing in on Fifty Shades of Grey’s success.  What struck me in particular was the memo B&Q sent out to its staff in anticipation of the film’s release.  In reference to a teaser clip of the film, which sees leading man Christian Grey buying rope at a hardware shop, employees at B&Q shops were told to read the books so that they could prepare themselves to answer “unusual” and “sensitive” questions from customers and to expect an increase in the demand for cable ties, rope and tape.  If you’ve read the books you’ll know why.

The “leaked” memo, which was sent to every single employee at 359 stores, was headed: “Staff Briefing – Preparation for Fifty Shades of Grey Customer Queries.”  B&Q has since confessed to what we all guessed from the beginning – the whole thing was a PR ruse for “a bit of fun”!  In a cheeky statement a spokesperson has said that they “would have confessed to this sooner, but our hands were tied”!

When you consider what this little trick did for B&Q’s status and the publicity it gained it’s quite clear the stunt was a stunning success.  The memo was broadcast across a variety of media platforms including The Mirror, the MailOnline, The Telegraph and The Guardian, not to mention that the frenzy it caused on Twitter led to the store being associated with the #50ShadesOfGrey worldwide trend. Talk about getting your name out there.

Whether the general public will flock to B&Q to buy their Valentine’s Day supplies or whether they’ll opt for the safer, romantic option of a candlelit dinner remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure, I’ll be sat in with a bottle of wine and Take Me Out!

emma