Have you met "The Legend" yet?
If you're familiar with Haviland Pool & Spa Products, you might have. He's the host of Haviland's web series, "Legendary Pools & Spas," which debuted earlier this year on the YouTube channel of the same name. Each episode depicts The Legend, portrayed by Haviland Regional Sales Manager John Bokor, shining a light on one of the many interesting facets of our industry.
Sometimes he talks to a dealer with a remarkable story, as he did when visiting Good Time Pools in Chillicothe, Ohio, which Bokor bills the world's smallest pool store. (Which, at about 16 feet wide, may very well be the case.) In another episode, The Legend quizzes a group of children on swimming pool facts with cute (and funny) results. Other videos tackle water care, swim spas, distribution, manufacturing and more.
What all the videos have in common is The Legend, a guy who will do just about anything for a laugh. He'll wear a winter coat in the middle of summer to talk about winterizing. He'll walk through a pool store in flip flops and swim trunks. He'll hoist himself over the side of an aboveground pool and fall in.
In other words, think of it as a "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" for the pool and spa industry — minus Guy Fieri's bleach-blonde hair.
Here, Bokor and Haviland Marketing Manager John Bereza explain the origins of the series and share where they hope it may lead.
As with all great legends, the web series came from humble beginnings.
"Our plan was to do some instructional videos and expand our library," Bereza says. "Then it crossed our minds that we've done dozens of them in the past — I've probably made about 20 myself. And while they're well made and informative, they're easily watched and forgotten."
While educational videos do have their place (who hasn't gone on YouTube for a how-to video or product review?), Bereza and Bokor realized there was a void for informative and entertaining content in our industry.
"Together we talked about what we could do in terms of creating something we both like," Bereza says. "Both Johnny and I are fans of 'Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives' and 'American Pickers,' shows where you're able to tell these stories of not only the individuals, but the industry. You tell these technical stories but they're also personal stories at the same time."
For example, The Legend visited "the coolest pool store in America": Ruth Pools, Spas & Supplies (Belpre, Ohio), which is both a pool store and a bar, complete with a drive-through for customers to get their pool and liquor goods on the go. At McAlarney Pool and Spas (Marietta, Ohio), The Legend takes a tour of the store and enjoys treats from the in-store bakery, McAlarney's Bake Shop. Outside of dealer visits, The Legend has met homeowners for emergency green-to-cleans and even stars in some more cinematic shorts, like a parody of "Home Alone."
Bereza and Bokor reason that telling stories through video, from dealer stories to fictional, funny shorts, can help them reach a broader audience — consumers in particular.
"The original objective was to get to the consumer, to generate interest at the consumer level and drive them to our industry," Bokor says. "In today's world people are doing a lot better than they were doing five or 10 years ago. So they have some more discretionary income. And instead of sending them to go buy a new boat, RV or four wheeler, let's get them to buy a swimming pool."
The videos aren't limited to consumers by any means. Bokor and Bereza also hope industry professionals will get a kick out of the series, and even think of it as a helpful marketing tool that can be used on social media or in their stores.
"I've been told you want about 30 percent of your in-store marketing materials to be digital," Bokor says. "So think about your pool store in the summertime. It's busy, you have a small staff and a line of customers waiting to talk to you. If they can watch something that's engaging and funny, like our videos, they won't mind waiting in that line. They might even see a product and ask, 'Hey, what's that product? Tell me about it.' It's another way for dealers to promote stuff."
While Haviland is the corporation behind the videos, Bereza and Bokor caution that the series is not solely intended to peddle Haviland products. To the contrary, with Haviland's blessing they're willing to collaborate with almost any interested parties, even those related to competing companies, to create new videos.
"I'm talking to a couple of manufacturers right now and saying, 'Hey, what product do you think is really hot in the marketplace today that needs to be profiled? You got one on a pool? Where is it at? Can we get there?'" Bokor says.
"We understand that if we make a good video, and a competitor shares it, it brings up the entire library of Legendary videos, and it brings up the entire industry. And now we have one more person who is distributing our content," Bereza says. "And that's a good thing."
As of this writing, the Legendary Pools & Spas channel has more than 30 video uploads, all of which were filmed over the course of just five months. That impressive output is made possible by a few economical choices: the project only requires Bokor, Bereza and a camera, meaning they can shoot two or even three videos in one day. In addition, many video subjects have been within driving distance of Haviland's headquarters in Michigan.
As the channel picks up steam, however, the team is looking forward to broadening its horizons. They've recently shot footage in Orlando, for example, and plan to visit New Jersey, Texas and New York in the coming months.
"The idea is definitely to expand, and that's some of what we're looking for in terms of building an audience," Bereza says. "What we want when we head to these trade shows is to see our distributors and ask them, 'Where's a great story? Where is your best story? Where is your most interesting story?' 'Oh, it's in Oklahoma, or Tennessee, or Colorado,' and we'll go there. That benefits everyone, so that's what we're trying to do right now."
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As the "Legendary Pools & Spas" series continues to grow, Bereza and Bokor monitor its success through metrics like YouTube and Facebook analytics as well as viewer feedback — including requests for the team to come film at their businesses.
"We get a lot of customers and vendors who watch the videos, and they'll email me and John and say, 'I can't stop watching it, I've watched it five, six times in a row," Bereza says. "Honestly I look at it as essentially like a $0 proposition. It's just two salesman visiting a customer — but at the end of it, instead of handing them a hat or sticker or beach ball, we're going to give them real content that'll last forever. We're going to give them this video. And I think that is something that dealers want and that dealers will enjoy and dealers will understand that there's some value to that."
As goofy as the series may be, the "Legendary" series has a serious goal: to use fun as a way to help pool and spa professionals — regardless of where they are, what they do or what brands the align with — win new customers.
"This is about the greater good of the industry," Bokor says. "I'm not looking for anything today. It'll happen eventually, down the road.
"We're out there doing something different and I think people will appreciate it. We need to get that message out there."
THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND
We asked John Bokor, aka "The Legend," and Haviland marketing manager John Bereza to tell us more about the man behind the on camera personality.
AQUA: So where did "The Legend" name come from?
John Bokor: A few years ago, I was giving a presentation and one of the other reps said, "Man, you're the legend." And it's stuck!
AQ: How does it feel to step into the hosting role?
Bokor: It's who I am. The funny part is, people tell me, "You're talking like The Legend right now," and I'm like, "Yeah, but it's kind of just me. It's who I am." I guess I get a little bigger when the camera comes out. But that's honestly one of the things I really noticed when we first started is that, you might have someone that you really want to interview or talk to but then as soon as I camera comes out, they're a different person.
AQ: What is it about Bokor that makes him such a good fit for his role as the show host?
John Bereza: He's so engaging in front of the camera and has that big personality. And he's game for anything; if you tell him, "Hey, you're going to jump in the pool right now," there's no hesitation. "You're going to wear a winter coat today in the middle of summer right next to a pool," and he's just, "All right let's do it!" He's just up for it and he's upbeat.
Honestly, you could get a more technically advanced production, we could have a crew of 10 and all of these dollies and these lights and it would make the videos look a little more television ready, but it's still Johnny, The Legend, on the screen who has something that makes you want to see what comes next.