Have Adidas and Puma Always Been Business Rivals?

Adolf (“Adi”) Dassler began designing athletic shoes at the Dassler Brothers Sports Shoe Co. in Herzogenaurach, Germany, during the 1920s. His older brother, Rudolf (“Rudi”), was the extroverted salesman. But they never really got along, despite their international success in the athletic shoe business, which reached new heights after American track star Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games while wearing their shoes. Their personal conflicts continued to escalate, and in 1948 the Dassler brothers split the company in two, becoming the sporting apparel giants Adidas and Puma. The rivalry only got nastier as they built competing factories on opposite sides of the Aurach River in the Bavarian mill town of Herzogenaurach. Most people in the town worked for either Adidas or Puma, and marrying across company lines was forbidden.

History of a long-running feud:

  • Herzogenaurach became known as “the town of bent necks.” People looked at what shoes you were wearing before deciding to talk to you.

  • Adidas got its name by combining "Adi" and the first syllable of "Dassler." Rudolf Dassler's company was originally known as Ruda, but was later changed to Puma.

  • Rudolf died in 1974, and Adolf passed away in 1978. They were buried at opposite ends of the same cemetery.

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More Info: Fortune

Discuss this Article

Post 1

I never understood anyone's fascination with sports shoe brands. An expensive fascination.

When I was in Korea for a year I remember being able to translate a sign in Han-Gul lettering Ah DEE Da Suh. Aha! I can now translate those characters into phonemes that mean something to me. A break through sudden insight moment.

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