When TaylorMade Reinvented Maxfli As a Value, Distance Golf Ball Brand

Maxfli Fire distance golf balls when the brand was owned by TaylorMade
Packaging for the Maxfli Fire, one of the distance balls TaylorMade introduced under the Maxfli brand in 2006. TaylorMade Golf

The story that appears below was originally published late in 2006, at a time when TaylorMade Golf still owned the Maxfli brand of golf balls. And TaylorMade was taking a gamble with the brand: It decided that Maxfli, which previously had been used to market premium golf balls, would be reinvented as a value, distance balls brand. In other words, TaylorMade wanted to use Maxfli not to challenge Titleist, but to challenge Top-Flite.

TaylorMade had purchased Maxfli in 2003. And how did this brand reinvention go? Well, TaylorMade sold the Maxfli brand in 2008 to retailer Dick's Sporting Goods. (And a range of Maxfli-branded golf balls are still made today - see maxfli.com.)

The story we tell below is an old one, but it's informative of decisions golf manufacturers are considering, reconsidering, and making all the time: How best to position your brands? How best to market your assets?

Original Story: TaylorMade Repositioning Maxfli as a Distance Golf Ball Brand

December 10, 2006 - In a recent news release, Mike Ferris, senior director of product marketing for TaylorMade and Maxfli, said: "It takes more than great products to succeed as a golf equipment company. It also requires the ability to position a brand properly, and a clear voice to communicate that position to customers and consumers. We believe the time is right to reposition Maxfli, and we're confident that the new direction we're taking will rejuvenate the brand."

Translation: What we've been doing with Maxfli wasn't working, so we're going to try something new.

Nothing wrong with that; it's what smart companies do.

Everyone thought TaylorMade was pretty smart several years when the company bought Maxfli. TaylorMade had struggled to break into the golf ball market with its own TMaG brand. Maxfli was an established brand with a good name.

With its new Maxfli brand, TaylorMade set out to take on Titleist's Pro V1 juggernaut, and many golf equipment aficionados thought the Maxfli BlackMax, when it was introduced, was a worthy challenger to the Pro V1. But sales never matched the buzz.

Then TaylorMade introduced the TP Red and TP Black golf balls under its own TMaG brand. And that takes us back to that recent news release.

TaylorMade has decided to reposition the Maxfli brand as the distance seekers' golf ball. To go after, as TaylorMade calls them, the "long ball rebels."

"Long ball rebels" are golfers who revere John Daly, and love hitting the long ball over all other facets of the game.

So it makes sense that TaylorMade has signed Daly to help promote the new direction for Maxfli.

What TaylorMade is doing with Maxfli sounds like what Titleist did with Cobra and Bridgestone did with Precept. When Titleist bought Cobra, it positioned Cobra as the game-improvement brand, while focusing on highly skilled golfers with the Titleist brand. Likewise, when Bridgestone entered the U.S. market a couple years ago under its own brand, it repositioned Precept as the value brand, while "players' clubs" and balls were issued under the Bridgestone brand.

Look for TaylorMade to keep premium golf balls under the TMaG brand in the future, and value, distance-oriented balls under the Maxfli brand.

Maxfli will continue offering its best-known ball, the Noodle, but also offer two new balls under the new market position TaylorMade has chosen for it:

Maxfli Fire

Described as a "premium performance ball," the Fire is a three-piece ball designed to maximize distance while retaining enough softness around greens. Its "blazing ball speed" comes from the "HPF 1000 Speedmantle," which works with the ball's high-energy core to promote ball speed and therefore distance. The Maxfli Fire carries an MSRP of $19.95 per dozen, pretty cheap for a three-piece ball.

Maxfli PowerMax

Offered in two versions, the PowerMAX Distance and PowerMAX Soft Distance, TaylorMade describes the target audience for the PowerMax as "players who revere John (Daly) and his power and who aspire to grip it and rip it like he does. These are the guys who swing out of their shoes on every tee and who live for getting home in two on par-5s. Look for them on the driving range, not the practice green, because if they can’t go long, they’d rather not go at all." Well alrightie ... The PowerMax Soft Distance is, of course, a little softer in feel, and provides a little more spin around greens. The PowerMax Distance is designed to spin less and climb quicker. Both have an MSRP of $14.95 per dozen.