"In the beginning, there was a stigma to men playing a ladies' ball," says Bridgestone Sports USA Director of Marketing Stephen Graham, 33, who was hired at Bridgestone Sports in December 1999 as new-product planning manager and promoted to his current position in July 2000. "Men were hesitant to buy it or try it, and I think that's why any kind of aggressive marketing campaign would have failed."
The Precept MC Lady's name tells golfers it's not designed for everyone, but word-of-mouth says otherwise. In 2000, men started noticing the ball flew longer and straighter for them, too, and sales soared. In May 2001, 150,000 dozen were sold, up from 7,000 dozen in December 1999. With more males giving in, the marketer has mounted some low-key efforts.
When popularity of the ball was rising in 2000, Bridgestone Sports sent sleeves of balls to members of the media, wrapped in black stockings for effect. The latest effort was built directly on the original word-of-mouth success-an essay contest for golfers to share their experience using the Precept MC Lady.
"It's having fun with the concept of men playing a ladies' golf ball," he says.