Puma and Adidas - two iconic and world-class brands you’ve probably sported once in your life. But did you know that both these brands were created by two brothers who actually HATED each other? This is the unbelievable story behind the longest sibling rivalry of all time...
HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN?
Good question. In the 1920s, the brothers partnered up and started the Dassler brothers sports shoe company, operating out of a tiny laundry room in their mother’s house, in the German town of Herzogenaurach, Bavaria.
These two boys went by the name of Adolf and Rudolph. Adolf was the thoughtful craftsman who designed and made the shoes, while Rudolph was the extroverted salesman who knew how to talk business. However, fame and acclaim only really kicked off after Dassler equipped numerous Olympians with their gear, resulting in Jesse Owens re-writing Dassler history after winning gold in the 1928 Olympics.
From this point on, there was no going back as word got out that the shoes created by the two German brothers was the recipe to their success…
Business started to really ascend for both but amidst all the success something sinister was brewing……World War II. Although nobody knows exactly what went on right before the split, rumour has it that a bitter fight broke out in a bomb shelter between the Dassler brothers. The outcome? A company split after 25 years, and a rivalry that would go on to exist for nearly 60 years…
The split sent waves across Germany and the town of Herzogenaurach. Adolf, nicknamed ‘Adi’, named his business Adidas. Rudolf, attempted to call his business Ruda, and later changed it to PUMA. Hence – Adidas and PUMA were born.
"It ultimately ended in the two never speaking again in their lives." - Former CEO of PUMA, Jochen Zeitz
The war may of ended, but it didn’t between the Dasslers. They never spoke again after their split, and played a role in the great divide of their hometown, Herzogenaurach, where both factories faced each other on opposite ends of the town’s river. How’s that for fierce competition?
This went on for nearly 60 years.
Herzogenaurach even has two soccer teams, with ASV sporting Adidas and FC wearing Puma.
Many locals took a side, and still to this day will not find ways to compromise. Like the 38-year old local Puma veteran who says his friends are “smart enough to not wear three stripes anywhere near me.” One Puma marketing employee even took it one step further and decided to permanently imprint his body with a Puma clothing tag tattooed on his leg!
It was only long after both brothers had died, where former PUMA CEO Jochen Zeitz picked up the phone and called Herbert Heiner, the CEO of Adidas and said, “Well, it’s Peace Day coming up. I think it’s about time after 60 years to end this feud. How about doing something together?” It so happens that this day coincided with the UN’s World Peace Day in 2009. The 60 year rivalry finally ended with a friendly game of soccer. Irony or what.
Today, the Adidas and Puma war is history and both brands can poke fun at one another but we’d have to agree this is one of the greatest and most historic rivalries to exist between two world-renowned brands.
Which brings us to our next question…
WHO WORE IT BETTER?
PUMA OR ADIDAS?….. You be the judge.