By Susan O'Neill Posted August 28, 2008, 11:41 AM EDT
Despite a few technical glitches in the final round of play Tuesday, LG Electronics Canada awarded $25,000 in cash and prizes to a contestant deemed the fastest text messager in the country during the finale of the LG Canadian Texting Championships at Diesel Playhouse. Nine contestants from across Canada competed for the title during the free public event, which drew a crowd of 200 media representatives, industry insiders, and curious passersby.
“The location is great because there’s a lot of foot traffic,“ said LG manager of public affairs Frank Lee. “It’s great for us to be able to draw some consumers to the event.” Those who did wander into the noon-hour finals had the chance to try their hand at texting in an arcade set up in the lobby. Prizes included an LG DVD player and tickets to a performance of Evil Dead: The Musical.
Inside the main auditorium, a theatre-style setup featured a stage with nine illuminated stations bearing LG logos. A large screen, which broadcast images from the qualifying rounds, served as a backdrop. “It’s very much like a game show,” Lee said, explaining that contestants would see a phrase pop up on the screen and would then have to text it as fast as they could.
The finalists, aged 14 to 28, qualified for the competition in one of 19 texting battles held across Canada during the past two months. (The national competition kicked off at the Eaton Centre June 26.) “We knew that texting as a social phenomenon was there,” Lee said of the company’s desire to capitalize on the trend with a contest. He noted that Canadians sent 10.1 billion text messages in 2007, and are now sending 45.3 million per day. LG worked with High Road Communications to coordinate the tour.
During the finals, contestants went head to head, texting phrases and lyrics from songs by Kanye West and Queen. Referees judged each entry based on speed and accuracy. Technical problems with a few of the cell phones—the LG Rumour (from Bell), the LG Vu (from Rogers), and LG Keybo (from Telus) were used in the event—delayed the final round of action, which had to be restarted six times. Hosts Evan Starkman and Nicole Arbour entertained the crowd and invited the LG cheerleaders to perform while IT staff addressed the problems.