Leap Day 2016: Activations Range from Fun to Philanthropic

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Chevrolet #DayItForward

It’s definitely a here-today, gone-tomorrow marketing opportunity. Leap Day, however, carries the additional challenge of not having a built-in tentpole event like the Oscars or the Super Bowl.

But marketers are giving it a big try today anyway, perhaps understanding that on the next February 29, in 2020, whatever memes, media or marketing methods they’re using now may well be obsolete.

McDonald’s, for example, is rewarding 24 customers, from 20 markets around the country who work nontraditional schedules and are reputed to make a difference in their communities, according to AdAge.

Zappos is rewarding its 1,600 employees by giving all staffers a paid day off, even those who work at its call center.

Zappos #TakeTheLeap

PepsiCo’s relatively wan effort is a tweet to get people to buy its products.

And NBCUniversal and BuzzFeed are replacing about 30 minutes of national ad spots during prime time this evening with branded content for American Express.

Chevrolet is using an altruistic twist on Leap Day to lend the “holiday” some broader significance with an initiative it’s calling #DayItForward during which celebrities, communities and dealers are “performing acts of unanticipated kindness,” according to press release.

“One of our brand values is optimism,” Paul Edwards, vice president of marketing for Chevrolet, told brandchannel. “Especially considering the heaviness in the world today, we wondered how we could create a movement built around optimism and doing good things for other people. And then we would leverage the fact that we’ve got extra time to do it” because of the Leap Day.

So, in Fresno, Calif., for instance, Chevy delivered an all-new 2016 Malibu to a beloved teacher’s aid at a high school at an assembly in her honor.

And on the celebrity front, Chevrolet got actor Kevin Spacey to surprise a performing-arts student named Diontae Simpson with a grant that will support him in his dream of going to drama school, getting mentoring and honing his craft.

Working with its dealers and Twitter, Chevrolet also helped create an emoji that enables users to share how they #DayItForward.

Any marketing lessons learned can be applied—in four years.

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