According to folklore, leap year day is the choice moment for women who have no interest in waiting for the guy to pop the question.
And now businesses and nonprofit organizations are using the day — Feb. 29, this Friday — as the occasion to make special proposals and pitches of their own.
This year there are frog-oriented promotions (get it? leap!), exotic cocktails being added to menus (“I'll have a leap day, on the rocks”), and marketing campaigns for products whose relevance to the date at hand seems at best tenuous (pizza? skin moisturizer?). Certain discounts are being offered only to the rarefied few who have the fortune or misfortune to have been born on this calendar anomaly.
Boston Market will be dishing up a free leap day lunch — choices include chicken pot pie and meatloaf — to those born on Feb. 29, otherwise known as leaplings. Anyone who is still hungry can try Morton’s The Steakhouse which is offering a free special dinner to a limited number of guests in eight markets, among them Baltimore, Philadelphia and Hackensack, N.J. Reservations and birthday bona fides are required.
“We just thought it was a fun way to promote Morton’s,” said a spokesman for the chain, Roger Drake, “to honor the people who were born on leap year day and who kind of get left out of things on their birthdays. They only get one every four years, and Morton’s is all about celebrations.”
According to the Web site www.leapyearday.com, which is run by a group called the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies, there are about 200,000 leap day babies in the United States. Famous ones include the actor Dennis Farina, the motivational speaker Tony Robbins and the rapper Ja Rule.
“We want the calendars to put the words leap day on Feb. 29 the way they put New Year’s Day on Jan. 1 or Groundhog Day on Feb. 2,” said Raenell Dawn, a leapling and a co-founder of the society. So far the quest is quixotic. “I’ve been at this for 20 years and no calendar company has agreed. One laughed at me.”
If it is any consolation, Ms. Dawn — assuming she has her birth certificate handy — will be eligible for a free pizza ordered online on her birthday at Papa John’s, which is seizing the moment to introduce the Perfect Pan Pizza. The tag line: “One Giant Leap for Pankind.”
A Papa John’s spokesman, Chris Sternberg, said that his company was guided by the calendar in creating many of its promotions. “We’re always looking for opportunities for folks to try our product,” he said. “Leap day leaped out, as 7-7 did last year,” he added, referring to July 7, 2007.
Papa John’s will give customers whose birthdays fall on any of the other 365 days of 2008 other special online offers on Friday, like three large pizzas with three toppings, all for $29.29.
“There being an extra day this year it means Americans are being asked to work an extra day,” said Mr. Sternberg. “So the thought was that we would take care of dinner with a great deal on pizza.”