Dassler Business Hurricane

Dassler Business Hurricane

Adidas and Puma are the two world’s most well thought of shoe companies that have a twisted history. The rivalry between the two shoe brands was not just a corporate competition but was far beyond that; it was more like a family rivalry. The two company owners, Adolf Dassler (Adidas) and Rudolph Dassler (Puma) were actually brothers. However, being so tense and focused beating one another to the top, both the companies did not recognize Nike climbing their way to the top, leaving the brothers in their own dust. The brothers’s business had great success, but the tensions got between Adolf and Rudolph, and put them in tight situations.   

In the beginning Adolf or “Adi” Dassler was the quiet, creative craftsman who designed and made the shoes, the older brother, Rudolph, or “Rudi” was the better salesman. Soon enough, the success of one another created tensions on themselves.

During the Olympics the shoe company had a big break, standing on the podium, Jesse Owens receiving his gold medal, in the Olympics running a race with the Dassler shoes on. This event launched their shoe company much farther in sales, with the winning shoes. As their sales shot up, so did the tension between the two brothers. During World War ll, they were in an Allied bomb attack from another country during Adolf and his wife stayed in a bomb shelter already took by Rudolf and his family. “The dirty bastards are back again,” Adolf said, apparently talking about the planes, but Rudolf misheard the comment and thought it was an offense toward his family. This lit a spark in the brother’s feud.

It went far enough were Adi started to get his own brother in trouble. When Rudi was given a punishment, he suspected that Adi and his wife had tricked him to get in trouble so they could have the business to themselves. Rudi was arrested because they suspected he was working for the Gestapo (the secret state police of Germany). Rudolf was forced to serve the German forces in Poland, this made him angry. When Rudi was with the German forces, Adi rebuilt the brother’s business, selling his shoes to an American army. On both arrests, Rudi was positive that his own brother was the one ratting him out. An American investigating officer, proved Rudi’s thoughts right. His brother did rat him out, just so Adi could have the company to himself, and get Rudi out of the way. As the conflict kept growing, the brothers had enough of each other and split the company in two, dividing the employees between themselves, in 1948. After that the company was split and the rest is history.

Two parts of a town, Puma or Adidas, whatever one you chose, chose the way you had your daily life. The town soon caught up with the Dassler family fight, the rivalry reached crazy heights. There were local businesses that served only Adidas or only Puma supporters. Dating or marrying across company lines was forbidden. People started to look at which brand of shoes you were wearing before talking to you. However, taking in so much time on each other, both the companies were slow to react to the threat of Nike, which would come to dominate the athletic footwear industry, leaving the company far behind in sales.


  1. https://www.postoast.com/facts-about-adidas-and-puma/
  2. http://fortune.com/2013/03/22/the-hatred-and-bitterness-behind-two-of-the-worlds-most-popular-brands
  3. http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2089859_2089888_2089889,00.html  
  4. https://www.thecut.com/2008/03/what_puma_and_adidas_have_to_d_1.html