A Bluffton advertising agency was tapped by the state this week 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.

The change in marketing agencies was announced Thursday.

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.

The tourism contract had been handled since 1979 by Greenville-based Leslie Advertising and its successor, the Bounce Agency, which Edmonds said is closing. The company informed the state agency about a year ago that it no longer had the personnel to oversee South Carolina’s tourism promotion account. Bounce previously had lost two other large clients.

BFG’s initial contract period runs for six months and then it will be extended for six years.

The S.C. 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 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, 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.

The Post and Courier contributed to this report.