The Sibling Rivalry Behind Adidas Versus Puma

Puma and adidas: their factories are across the street, and the founders are siblings

Two factories, which are practically across the street from each other, produce at first glance the same thing, and their owners are two quarreling brothers who divided production and became enemies and main competitors for each other. No, this is not the plot of an advertisement for a well-known chocolate bar, this is the story of the emergence of the brands Adidas and Puma.

Puma and adidas: their factories are across the street, and the founders are siblings

Production start

In 1898 in the city of Herzogenaurach, the third child, Rudolf, was born in the Dassler family, two years later he had another brother, Adolf. As they got older, the children, at first, helped their mother, who worked as a laundress, they helped to wash and iron, and also delivered clean linen to customers. Then the sons got a job in a shoe factory where their father worked. When the First World War began, the elder brothers were called to the front. Adolf was not suitable for his age, and his parents got a job as an apprentice in a local bakery. Rudolph was sent to the Western Front, to Belgium, where he spent the entire war, Adolf still could not avoid being drafted, but he was called up at the very end of the war. He was able to return home already at the end of 1919; at home, he and his father began to manufacture footwear, including special footwear for the disabled, which was in great demand after the war. The country was recovering with great difficulty after the end of the conflict, the population had practically no money, therefore it was pointless to produce high-quality, and therefore expensive goods. Shoes were made from decommissioned military uniforms, and the soles were made of car rubber.

Rudolph's fate was different, he went to Munich after the war, where he graduated from police courses and even got a job in the police, but for a long time there did not stay. He changed several companies where he worked in the field of sales, and in 1924 his younger brother suggested that he establish a production of shoes for athletes, the venture was risky, but Rudolph agreed. Unlike his brother, who made good money on the joint production with his father, he had no money. Therefore, the elder brother brought in a typewriter as his part of the start-up capital. In Gebrüder Dassler (Dassler brothers), this was the name of the new company, Rudolf was doing the same thing as before - sales, Adolf, in turn, was focused on production.

Puma and adidas: their factories are across the street, and the founders are siblings

The first success

The shoes produced by the brothers' company very quickly began to gain popularity among athletes, largely thanks to Afolf's new invention - the spikes, which were specially made by the blacksmiths of the Celine brothers. Thanks to the spikes, athletes received greater stability, and the orthopedic insoles made the shoes more comfortable. In 1928, this invention was patented by the brothers' company. Rudolph also did not waste time, thanks to his work at the very first Olympic Games in Amsterdam after the appearance of the company in 1928, a number of athletes performed in shoes produced by the brothers. InDuring the next Olympics, a German athlete wearing Dassler shoes won a medal.

The development of the company was facilitated by the change of power in Germany, the National Socialist Labor Party, the German Workers' Party, became the ruling party. She paid a lot of attention to sports, and therefore the shoes that the company of brothers created became even more in demand. In 1936, the Olympics were held in Berlin and the brothers made another very bold decision: they entered into an agreement with a black athlete from America - Jesse Owens. In a country where interracial marriage was banned, and the children of black Entente soldiers living in the Rhineland were subjected to forced sterilization, such cooperation was indeed risky. But the risk turned out to be justified, Jesse in new shoes won four gold medals and set a world record, this made the brothers famous all over the world. The company became more and more successful, the brothers could afford to hire more and more employees, and therefore they bought out the building that they had rented, added a third floor, and then built another factory. The company produced 1000 pairs a day, providing footwear to athletes in 11 disciplines.

Puma and adidas: their factories are across the street, and the founders are siblings


At the same time the first serious disagreements arose between the brothers, back in 1933 they both became members of the ruling party. But the story with Jesse Owens was not in vain for them, Adolf had doubts about the ideology of his country, his brother did not share his views, and this became the cause of the first conflict. The Second World War dealt a serious blow to the company, a crisis began, the second factory had to be closed, and there was simply no money for its maintenance. Both brothers are again mobilized, the company is confiscated in favor of the state in order to produce shoes for the military. But production cannot be launched on the required scale, so Adolf is withdrawn from the regular army, he once heads his factory.

Rudolph again had a harder time not to get to the front, he imitated night blindness, but this does not help either. he is assigned to a typing bureau in the Polish city of Tuszyn. In 1945 he deserted, but was arrested by the Gestapo, he was sent to a concentration camp, but he was not destined to get there either, during transportation he was freed by American soldiers. But Rudolph's troubles did not end there, after the end of the war he was again arrested. This time, for cooperation with the Gestapo, the occupation authorities sent him to an internment camp.


During the arrest, Rudolph was informed that someone had reported him, he suspected his brother and harbored a grudge. Upon learning that the denazification procedure had begun against Adolf, he began to testify. According to him, at their factory, on the initiative of Adolf, the production of military equipment began, and his brother was personally involved in agitating the workers, speaking to them with speeches. Knowing about Adolf's disagreements with the party, and about his love for sports, because of which he opened the gameIt’s hard to believe, but despite this he received a two-year suspended sentence. The factory was obliged to produce hockey skates and send them to the United States, things gradually improved, the workers were no longer given firewood and yarn instead of wages. But relations between the brothers continued to deteriorate, after the death of their father in 1948, they decided to split the production. The employees were given a choice, and the majority decided to stay with Adolf. They decided not to make separate left and right sneakers, but instead started two full-fledged companies. So in one city, two competing factories appeared very close - Addas from Adolf Dassler and Ruda from Rudolf Dassler, later the firms began to be called Adidas and Puma. The younger brother stayed in the old building, and those employees who remained loyal to the elder moved to a new one, which was closed due to the war.

Living apart

Each of the companies tried to bypass the other , there was a real war between the brothers, the workers refused to sit at the same table with those who worked in a rival factory. The city literally split into two camps. The companies regularly filed lawsuits against each other, over slogans, on suspicion of industrial espionage. For the first time, Rudolph's shoes appeared on replaceable spikes, he began to distribute them among football clubs in local leagues, before the 1954 World Cup, representatives of the national team came to him to provide the team with boots, but the company did not have the physical ability to do so.

Puma and adidas: their factories are across the street, and the founders are siblings

As a result, Adolf put his shoes on for the national team, he also sat with the team on the bench during the final match, and it was he who convinced the players to replace the spikes, which in the end played a decisive role in that victory of the German national team. After this triumph, Adolf negotiated with the Olympic Committee to place advertisements in stadiums. Both brothers actively involved their sons in the production, at some point the son of Rudolf Armin and the son of Adolf Horst entered into a secret agreement: they agreed not to take away athletes from each other, and also not to sign a contract with Pele, so as not to increase advertising prices. But when Puma attracted almost all the players of the national team, Pele had quite logical questions and Armin violated the agreement, so the enmity passed on to the next generations of Dasslers. Brazil eventually won the World Cup, and Pele's contract stipulated a separate clause, according to which, before the start of one of the matches, he had to tie his laces in the central circle so that the whole world could see what was on his feet.

Despite the fact that the brothers held secret meetings several times, they never made up. Soon Rudolph was diagnosed with lung cancer, before his death, the priest called Adolf and asked him to come, Adolf refused, but asked to tell Rudolph that he forgave him, and Adidas released an official release: Adolf Dassler's family would not like to give any comments on the death of Rudolf Dassler ... He did not appear at his brother's funeral either, buthe died four years later without recovering from a stroke. The brothers are buried in their hometown, in the same cemetery, at different ends, and now no one will ever know what actually caused their quarrel. A film was made about this story in 2016.

So which side are you on?

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