Adidas VS Puma: The story of how the hatred of two brothers led to the creation of famous brands
It all started in the small German city of Herzogenaura in the 1920s. In his mother’s laundry room, two Dassler brothers started a business of their own: the younger brother Adolf (Adi) sewed shoes and the older brother Rudolf (Rudi) sold them. This was the post-war period, and the brothers sewed the most necessary shoes – orthopedic shoes for training athletes with disabilities, which were quite a lot after the war. For the soles, they took old car tires, and the upper part of the shoes was cut out of old or decommissioned military uniforms.
In the family business, the brothers balanced each other well – the calm and reasonable Adolf invented new and new options for cutting and designing shoes, while his active and sociable brother talked with customers and sold them goods. Two years after the start of work, Adolf arranged with the blacksmiths, the Celain brothers, to forge the spikes that he sewed into the sole of his boots, thus creating comfortable football boots. They became the branded products of the Dassler company.
Like many Germans at the time, they joined the Nazi party, led by Adolf Hitler, who promised “a new bright world for the great German nation.” At the same time, the brothers are confidently developing their own company – they are buying out a factory in Lviv, hiring workers, and athletes are beginning to perform in their shoes at the Olympic Games.
So, at the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1932, German Arthur Jonat appeared in Dassler’s shoes, who took third place in the 100m race. However, the greatest success was waiting for them 4 years later. That year, the Olympics were held in Germany itself, and one of the athletes, African-American Jesse Owens, was wearing Dassler brothers’ shoes when he set a world record and won four medals during the competition. It was a time when the brothers literally woke up famous – everyone wanted to buy their “magic” shoes. Their sales exceeded 400,000 German marks.
Despite the tremendous success, the relationship between the brothers left much to be desired. Adolf constantly tried to change and improve shoe models, even those that already sold well – and this annoyed Rudolph, as he believed that he should not “spoil” what already brings money. In addition, the brothers had different political views: Rudolph fully supported the line of the Nazi party, while Adolf dared not to comply with their requirements.
The outbreak of World War II completely destroyed the brothers’ business. Despite the fact that they both were members of the party, their property, including two factories, were confiscated, and the brothers themselves were sent to the front. If before the outbreak of hostilities they let out 1,000 pairs a day, then in 1946 they again started from scratch – to create shoes from the remnants of military ammunition.
The quarrels of the brothers began in wartime, and after 1946 they only became more frequent and intensified. The decisive event was the death of their father in 1948. After her, Rudolph took one factory for himself, and Adolf the second. They agreed that not one of them would use the glory of a common company and would not use their surname in the name of their enterprises. So Adolf called his company Addas, which a few months later changed to Adidas (Adi Dassler), and his brother took the name Ruda (from Rudolf Dassler), which he also changed later – this is how Puma appeared.
Both brothers were silent about the reasons for their quarrel. Some said that they simply could not share the inheritance. Others said that Rudi could not forgive Adi, that he did not try to force him out of the prisoner of war prison after the war, although he did have such opportunities. Someone said that all the fault of the wife of the brothers, who from the very beginning hated each other. There is also a version that Rubolf suspected his brother of a denunciation, because of which the Americans arrested him after the war.
One way or another, the brothers started a real war against each other. They regularly sued each other. So, in 1958, Adidas products were sold under the advertising campaign “Adidas – the best sports shoes in the world!”, And Rudolph sued the company for deliberately misleading people, because the Brazilian team won in training Puma (Rudolph won a business). Adolf, in turn, constantly initiated lawsuits due to suspicions of theft of technology. “If there was a hole every time on Rudolf, when I kicked him and said:“ Hey, this is my invention, ”said Adolph,“ he would now look like Swiss cheese. ”
Now their hometown of Herzogenaurach has become home to two giant headquarters at once – Puma and Adidas. Most of the city’s population works for either one or another company. They stand in different parts of the city, separated by the Aurah River, and still, as once their founders, compete with each other.