Adidas v Puma: The Brother’s Feud

Adidas v Puma: The Brother’s Feud
Logos of Puma (Rudolf Dassler) and Adidas (Adolf Dassler)

Adidas and Puma are ranked number two and number three largest sportswear companies in the world – but did you know they started in the same family?

The Shoe Factory

Original logo of "Gerbrueber Dassler Schuhfabrik Herzogenaurach" (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory), later to split into two of the world's largest sportswear and football kit companies - Adidas , founded by Adolf Dassler, and his older brother Rudolf who went on to set up rival Puma.
Original logo of “Gerbrueber Dassler Schuhfabrik Herzogenaurach” (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory), later to split into two of the world’s largest sportswear and football kit companies – Adidas , founded by Adolf Dassler, and his older brother Rudolf who went on to set up rival Puma.

Adidas was originally run by Adolf Dassler and brother Rudolf Dassler. They called it “Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik” meaning “Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory” in German. Gebrüder Dassler was based in the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach.

Olympic Gold Dassler Spikes

Gold medalist Jesse Owens competing at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany, wearing Gerbrueber Dassler Schuhfabrik Herzogenaurach's spiked running shoes (Image of Jesse Owens is copyright of the German Federal Archives).
Gold medalist Jesse Owens competing at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany, wearing Gerbrueder Dassler Schuhfabrik Herzogenaurach’s spiked running shoes (Image of Jesse Owens is copyright of the German Federal Archives 🔗).

Dassler convinced American runner Jesse Owens 🔗 to wear their handmade Adidas spiked shoes at the 1936 Olympic Games – the first Olympics to be broadcast on live television. Owens went on to win four Olympic gold medals at the 1936 event (the 100 metres, the long jump, the 200 metres, and the 4×100-metre relay race).

The Dassler Brothers Split

Original logos of Puma (Rudolf Dassler Puma Schuhfabrik) and Adidas (Adolf Dassler Sportschuhe)
Original logos of Puma (Rudolf Dassler Puma Schuhfabrik) and Adidas (Adolf Dassler Sportschuhe)

In 1948, after returning from serving in the Bundeswehr 🔗 (German Army), the brothers became embroiled in a disagreement that would have major effects on both the sportswear industry and on global manufacturing. Older brother Rudolf Dassler left the company to set up rival sportswear company Puma (initially called “Ruda” from “Rudolf and Dassler”), while Adolf remained, naming his company Adidas (from “Adolf “AdiDassler”).

Adolf Dassler had tried to name his company “Addas” but was rejected due to the existence in Germany of a show company with the same name in the German Company Register 🔗. This led Dassler to choose the name “Adidas” as an alternative brand name. The word Adidas is a broken acronym of the inventor’s name, Adolf “Adi” Dassler.

Opposite Sides of the Aurach

Despite being based in the same town, such was the bitter rivalry that existed between Adidas and Puma the two companies took plots on opposite sides of the River Aurach. Adidas and Puma workers would often not associate with each other and when Adolf “Adi” Dassler passed away 🔗 in 1978 his grave was at the other end of the Herzogenaurach Alter Friedhof 🔗 (Herzogenaurach Old Cemetery) to his brother Rudolf who died and was buried 🔗 there in 1974.

English newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported in 2009 🔗 that Adidas and Puma had partaken in a symbolic football match to officially end the long-standing feud. Adidas CEO Herbert Heiner and Puma CEO Jochen Zeitz met to end the Dassler brother’s rivalry.

Adidas & Puma Today

The Adidas head office building in the town of Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany (Image of Adidas headquarters is copyright of Andreas von der Au 🔗).
The Adidas head office building in the town of Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany (Image of Adidas headquarters is copyright of Andreas von der Au 🔗).

Today, both Adolf’s Adidas and Rudolf’s Puma are headquartered in the the same Bavarian town of “Herzogenaurach 🔗”, in the “Erlangen-Höchstadt 🔗” region of Germany. Herzogenaurach lies approximately 15 miles to the north west of the City of Nuremburg, home of 1. FC Nürnberg 🔗.

Traditional German food in the town of Herzogenaurach, Germany (Image of Bavarian food copyright: Stadt Herzogenaurach).
Traditional German food in the town of Herzogenaurach, Germany (Image of Bavarian food copyright: Stadt Herzogenaurach 🔗).

Adidas is the largest sportwear manufacturer in Europe, and second largest sportswear manufacturer globally, behind its fierce rival Nike. Puma is ranked as the third largest sportswear manufacturer in the world.

Adidas has an 8.33% shareholding in FC Bayern Munich 🔗, the German Bundesliga football champions 2020/2021. Adidas also owns the sportswear company Reebok 🔗.

From the English Premier League Puma manufactured the 2020/2021 season kits of Newcastle United, Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace.

English Premier League trophy with sky blue ribbons, alongside the sky blue coloured Manchester City FC Puma home shirt for the Premier League title-winning season of 2020/2021.
English Premier League trophy with sky blue ribbons, alongside the sky blue coloured Manchester City FC Puma home shirt for the Premier League title-winning season of 2020/2021.

While Adidas manufactured the 21/22 EPL kits of Arsenal, Fulham, Leeds United, Leicester City, Manchester United, Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.