Gentlemen, Start Your… Thumbs

It’s a texting contest! It’s a text-message marketing campaign! Once again, handset maker LG is holding its U.S. National Texting Championship–and the competition is a study in SMS, or text-message, marketing.

The fourth annual LG U.S. National Texting Championship will test each player’s texting speed, accuracy, and dexterity when the Final Four contestants  face off for three days in mid-September in New York City. The winner gets $100,000 after proving herself/himself in challenges like typing phrases on LG handsets exactly as they appear on LG plasma screens, while distracted by blind folds, the complexity of the phrases, and marathon game play.

To get to NYC, contestants must take part in LG’s various SMS campaigns. It’s a great opportunity for LG, and other companies involved with putting on the contest, to interact with consumers while adding to their database of opt-in contacts–fueling further interaction and relations between marketer and consumer.

The phone maker has already started running commercials on MTV enticing entrants to text game-play phrases to designated short codes. During certain weeks leading up to the Final Four challenge, Wild Card participants will receive a text with a short phrase and the first person to reply with the exact phrase (spelling and punctuation count) will qualify for the Online Finals. Wild Card Week dates and times are a surprise–so hopefuls must text “LG” to 28683 to sign up for game play alerts.

Sure, there are other aspects to the competition, like weekly tournaments on Facebook and challenges during stops on a concert tour called the Bamboozle Road Show. But the SMS campaign aspect really capitalizes on participants’ love of texting, and preference to communicate via that medium.

My only question? Whether questions of equality between contestants using traditional phone keypads and those using QWERTY (LG brags being a “leader in QWERTY devices”) will create Olympic skating-like controversy.