LG Builds Brand Recognition at Second Annual Thumb War

By Michael O'Connell July 10, 2008, 4:05 PM EDT

It turns out that there are a few scenarios in life where a preoccupation with your phone and a blatant disregard for proper grammar can really pay off. For the winner of LG’s National Texting Championship, it paid the sum of $50,000 last night in New York City. 

For the second year in a row, the world’s fourth-leading cellular-phone manufacturer invited its customers to throw down in regional battles of digit dexterity. Some 15,000 signed up to compete (more than twice as many as last year), with most participants in their teens or early 20s. It all came down to 20-year-old Nathan Schwartz from Ohio, who was crowned at the final event at Roseland Ballroom.

The competition's colorful contestants are much more of an asset to LG's marketing than traditional advertising, explained LG vice president of product strategy and marketing Ehtisham Rabbani to Forbes magazine. “Sixty percent of U.S. consumers say texting is very important to them,” he continued. “It’s a crucial category that’s growing.”

The competition measured contestants’ speed and accuracy at thumbing chosen messages. Authenticity was key, so many phrases the competitors were timed to type contained abbreviated lingo, substituting syllables with numerals. Curveballs also came in the form of incoming calls, which, in less skilled hands, might delete incomplete messages. 

The final challenge was to transcribe the phrase “Does everybody here know the alphabet? Let's text. Here it goes ... AbcDeFghiJKlmNoPQrStuvWXy & Z! Now I know my A-B-C's, next time won't you text with me?” which Schwartz finished, arbitrary casing in tact, in exactly one minute.

LG plans to host competitions in Europe and South America next year, after a Canadian incarnation kicks off later in 2008.

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