Two builders in the Dallas market are putting aside competitive issues to launch a joint media campaign, with help from subcontractors and vendors.

Robertson Pools in Coppell and Riverbend Sandler Pools in Plano — both Pool & Spa News Top Builders — are utilizing the Internet, television, radio and direct-mailers to help keep their phones ringing.

The contractors needed at least $75,000 to start, so Covington, La.-based distributor PoolCorp and Vista, Calif.-based manufacturer Zodiac Pool Systems pitched in, as did various local subcontractors.

PoolCorp’s marketing department fashioned the Website ( and various media components with input from Vance Gillette, an independent consultant and former Zodiac executive.

The arrangement helps both builders market at a level previously out of reach.

“I’ve tried cable television and was not satisfied with the results,” said Riverbend President/CEO Charles Barnes. “I wanted to go with the [local network affiliates] and some of the better radio programs. We just couldn’t afford it by ourselves and felt [that] if we combined our resources, we would be able to get a bigger bang for our buck.”

If the campaign proves successful, officials at PoolCorp and Zodiac said they will consider prompting similar initiatives in markets they deem viable.

“[If this works], I would envision,, — if you can get the builders in those areas to come together and pool their resources,” Group Vice President Dave Cook said.

Ron Robertson, president of Robertson Pools, got the idea after seeing a commercial for a local boat show. “It was one of those deals where you [remember] that the RV, boating and travel industries are really our competitors,” he said. “And they’ve drawn alliances with each other to market their products.”

There’s a longstanding debate in the pool and spa industry about whether a “Got Milk” type campaign should be conducted on a national level or limited to local markets. These players think local is the way to go.

“You can drill down on a more regionalized basis and be a lot more effective than a broad, national campaign, which costs millions and millions of dollars,” Cook said.

And while the current economy makes advertising seem like a luxury to some, this may be the ideal time to launch such a program. Media prices have dropped significantly — as much as 50 percent in some areas.

“There are some great media buys these days, so pooling [resources] together between pool builders, distributors and manufacturers can generate a nice campaign in a given market,” said Bob Rasp, Zodiac president/CEO.

Robertson wants to see more collaboration among builders in the future, and he and Barnes hope others will sign on eventually. Nevertheless, they will be selective about who participates.

By current standards, the campaign has been a huge success, generating a lead every day and two sales in its first month.

The ads don’t mention the economy directly; instead, they paint a picture of the ideal staycation. “We’re trying to convey to the customer that it’s still fun,” Barnes said.

But the downturn is addressed subliminally. “People know times are tough,” Cook said. “[The ads are] more focused on, ‘You’re going to keep your home; why not enjoy it even more? You can do that for not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things.’”