Last month we looked at the events that led to the two brothers, Rudolf and Adi Dassler falling out, which would result in the formation of two of the biggest sportswear companies in the world. The brothers parted company in 1948, dividing their assets and forming two new companies. Adi called his company “Adidas,” a combination of his first and last names, and Rudi did the same, but not thinking “Ruda” had much of a ring to it, changed it to “Puma.” They built competing factories on opposite sides of the river, constituting virtually of the town of Herzogenaurach’s economy, with nearly everyone working for one company or the other.
Which meant that the whole town got caught up in the feud, with businesses only serving Adidas or Puma people, and no one daring to date across company lines.. Herzogenaurach became known as “the town of bent necks” since people looked at what shoes you were wearing before deciding whether or not to talk to you.
Both Adidas and Puma were locked into fierce competition with each other, constantly trying to outdo each other. While Rudi had the sales staff and knew how to sell products, Adi had the technical expertise, and especially important, better relationships with athletes who could be seen promoting the brand, a factor which played in Adi’s favour, as his sales outstripped Rudi’s.
However, both Adidas and Puma were so locked into rivalry each with each other, they would miss the rise of a new American kid on the block who would eclipse them – Nike.
Many years after the brothers’ death, the town is finally beginning to relax again. Indeed, in 2009, employees from both Puma and Adidas would take to the football pitch for a friendly – something that would have been unthinkable a short time before.
While families falling out may not be a good thing, we have the Dassler brothers’ animosity to thank for birthing two of the greatest sportswear brands in the world