Interactive commercial dials up for Myrtle Beach info

USA Today Encore Story
Rik Dickinson, one of the owners of Encore Video, was Instrumental in creating a new tone and dial television commercial which is now airing on national airtime. Toll-free numbers changed marketing concepts dramatically. Now, a co-op of Myrtle Beach Businesses has added another twist with a national TV commercial that dials its 800-number automatically.

The 45-second spot advertises Myrtle Beach entertainment packages and offers vacation materials. Interested viewers need only to hold their telephone receivers within earshot of the TV to be connected with a Myrtle Beach representative.

The special process, which is proprietary, works through the touch tone signals heard on the commercial.

"We wanted a way to stand out in today's busy market and also be user-friendly," said Rik Dickinson of Encore Video Productions, who developed the technique and produced the commercial.

"Although the concept is simple, it did take some technical research to make it workable," added Dickinson. "And judging from the early response, it is definitely working."

Dickinson came up with the idea about two years ago.

"I just tried it out, and it worked," he said. "It's called touchtone television."

The only problem is that some callers have not been holding the telephone receiver close enough to the television. It should be held about two feet from the screen.

Dickinson said the technology makes it easy for the deaf.

Encore can incorporate this technology into new productions as yet another feature to help clients connect with their customers.


Rik Dickinson of Encore Video in Myrtle Beach is producer of a television commercial containing a series of tones that automatically dials a telephone for a toll-free number to get tourist information on the Grand Strand. The ad will air on CNN, TNN and CMT cable channels.

Aim phone, let TV do rest

Ad dials number for Strand news - By David Wren

A group of Grand Strand business owners are putting together a cable television advertisement that will appeal to even the laziest couch potato.

The Hotel/Entertainment Advertising, Association - which is made up of more than, a dozen tourism-related business owners - spent $250,000 on a commercial that actually dials the telephone for the viewer by broadcasting touch tone signals over the airwaves.

The only thing the viewer has to do is turn the telephone on and hold it within "earshot" of the television when the commercial is on.

"The commercial breaks the dial tone and then dials a toll-free phone number," said Rik Dickinson, who developed the fingers-free dialing method.

Brandon Advertising's George DuRant wrote the script while Dickinson's Encore Video Productions produced the commercial. The 45-second spot aired on cable networks TNN, CMT and CNN.

"The auto-dialing is a gimmick to make the commercial stand out from everything else that's on television," Dickinson said. I think a lot of people will say, 'Hey, let's try this and see if it works' ".

Once the toll-free number has been dialed, the viewer will be connected with an operator who will take an address and mail out a -packet of vacation information.

Several area hotel owners - including S.M. Johnston, Jim Creel and Craig Conrad - have kicked in money for the commercial in the hopes of selling vacation packages.

The Grand Strand's live entertainment theater industry also is represented by John Cote, president of the company developing Fantasy Harbour-Waccamaw.

The association has paid for a full-page ad in USA Today and television commercials in major markets before, but this was its first national television effort.

"The entertainment industry is so new to this area, and a lot of people don't know that we're bringing in big-time performers," said association member David Brittain, whose family owns the Caribbean Resort, the Sea Captain's House restaurant and several other properties.

"The only way to develop the market is to' spend some money." Brittain said the association is meant to supplement the work of other Grand Strand marketing organizations by using media that have been under-utilized in the past, such as national television and the Internet.

"We want to reach people we haven't reached before," he said.

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