CHARLESTON, S. C. (AP) — A Bluffton advertising agency was tapped by the state Thursday to promote South Carolina's $15 billion tourism industry with a contract worth an estimated $57 million.

The contract will go to BFG Communications of Bluffton, said Marion Edmonds, a spokesman for the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. For years, the contract had been handled by Greenville-based Leslie Advertising and its successor, the bounce Agency.

BFG has more than 250 employees and its clients range from Coca-Cola to Warner Brother Entertainment and Hanes Brands. Edmonds said BFG was selected from a group of four finalists, all South Carolina ad agencies. He said the bounce Agency is closing.

The initial contract period runs for six months and then it will be extended for six years.

The Budget and Control Board estimates that over that time, the contract could be worth about $57 million.

Edmonds said PRT's spring ad campaign is already set but the public will see BFG's imprint beginning with the fall advertising effort. The new contract takes effect on Jan. 15 after a standard 10-day period in which others can protest the award.

PRT Director Duane Parrish said the agency will continue its emphasis in advertising on the undiscovered and unique experiences South Carolina offers.

"BFG demonstrated it understands the breadth and depth of this opportunity," he said.

"Our job will be simply uncover these hidden gems and showcase them with all the passion we have for the friendly people, intriguing places and immense opportunities offered throughout this great state," said Kevin Meany, the president and CEO of BFG Communications.

A $2.5 million media campaign gearing up this year is aimed at attracting visitors to lesser-known areas, including smaller towns people bypass on the way to more traditional tourist destinations, state parks, drive-ins, and rural attractions such as the Cherokee Foothills Trail and the Jocassee Gorges.


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