A record number of marketers want you to spend Tax Day 2012 on their Facebook pages printing coupons for free stuff.
Then, they want you to be a big spender -- maybe even with some of your tax refund -- when you walk in to claim your freebies.
In what's become an annual but odd rite of spring, marketers of products from fast food to office supplies again are latching onto consumer sentiments of relief, frustration and fear on Tax Day in the hopes that freebies or deals will lure you in to buy something.
This year's twist: Many are prodding consumers to first "like" them on their Facebook pages in order to enter and print free coupons there. "Every brand is trying to grow its community on Facebook," says Jenny McCabe, spokeswoman at Seattle's Best, which will mail 100,000 free coffee samples in response to Facebook requests.
Odds are, it will be a hit. "When does 'free' not work?" asks management consultant Pam Murtaugh.
Which may be why -- shortly before, during and after April 17, the date taxes are due this year -- marketers are offering these deals at participating locations (see Facebook pages for restrictions):
Freebie eats. Arby's will hand out curly fries. Chili's offers a free appetizer or dessert. MaggieMoo's has a free scoop of frozen yogurt. Panda Express will hand out free servings of its new Shanghai Angus Steak. Chevy's is doling out free chicken taquitos. And Cinnabon gives out two free Cinnabon Bites per customer.
Meal deals. P.F. Chang's offers 15% discounts on meals. Boston Market's got a free meal for those who buy one -- and a drink. And Bruegger's sells Tax Day Big Bagel Bundles (13 bagels and two tubs of cream cheese), for (wink, wink) $10.40.
Free relaxation. For the fourth-consecutive year, consumers can get free 10-minute massages at HydroMassage, which has pulled in as many as 200,000 consumer requests via the promotion in past years, President Paul Lunter says.
Freebie services. For penny-pinching, last-minute filers, Office Depot offers this bargain: free copying of up to 25 pages.
Then, there's Pizza Hut. Late in the evening of April 17, in six major U.S. cities, it will deliver free pizzas to select offices of the folks who may need an energy boost most: H&R Block tax preparers and their last-minute clients.
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