Did you know that Adidas was founded by Rudolph’s own brother who himself was the founder of Puma – Adolf Dassler? The Dassler Rivalry is considered as one of the biggest business family feud in the history of mankind. The Feud and the bad blood between the two companies due to their long history formally ended with a friendly football match on a peace day in 2009 at their hometown Herzogenaurach, a small German village which also serves as the headquarters of both the companies.
Decoding the secret sauce
The story of the how the two mega brands came into existence traces its way back to the age of the World Wars. It all started with Christoph, the father of Rudolph aka Rudi and Adolf aka Adi began passing the tricks of the trade to his children.
Adi Dassler was highly interested in the art of making a shoe and soon after he returned to his small German hometown of Herzogernaurach from the World War 1, he started his own shoe making company. Being an introvert Adi soon needed help with the sales and production of the shoes he created.
This is where his brother Rudi, an extrovert stepped in. Together they founded Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik. The major breakthrough that came for them during the infamous 1936 Berlin Olympics where Hitler refused to congratulate American Sprinter Jesse Owens. Owens had won 4 golds and the Dassler brother had convinced him to wear their special “pointed shoes”. This incident marked the inception of Generations long dominance of the Dassler brothers and forever changed the shoe industry.
The partnership between the two brothers lasted almost 25 years after which they parted ways- Adi Dassler combined the first part of his name to form ‘Adidas’ while Rudi too did the same and formed- ‘Ruda’. The name was later on changed to Puma.
There are lot of theories as to why the rift started. Even grandchildren of the Dassler brothers are unsure about it. According to The Guardian, Rudi-“apparently the better-looking one” had an affair with Adi’s wife Kathe for which he was never forgiven.
On the contrary, ‘history.howstuffworks’ claimed that in 1933, Adi’s sixteen-year-old wife started interfering in the business which hugely upset Rudi. The constant bickering between the wives of the two brothers worsened the matter.
While there’s a debate around the cause of the fight, everyone agrees to the tipping point which led to the split of the two brothers. During an air raid in the World War 2, Adi took refuge at an air shelter where Rudi was already present.
According to The Guardian, Adi heard Rudi saying “The Schweinhunde (pig dogs) are back” This comment led to an immediate fall out between the two of them. It had also been alleged that Adi gave up information on his brother for deserting the army in the World War 2 which led to Rudi’s imprisonment.
The fierce rivalry continued. They set up their base of operations on the opposite side of the river Aurach which flowed through middle of the village thus literally dividing the village into camps. The dispute remained unsettled forever as both of them were buried on the opposite sides of the same graveyard.
Amongst the whole fiasco, there was only one party that was happy- the residents of Herzogernaurach. Over the years, the two brands grew in leap and bounds and soon became cult yet they remained true to their roots which led to a great deal of prosperity to the town. Even in this matter the rivalry never stopped if one brand started sponsoring the local football club the other one started to sponsor their rivals.