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Adidas versus Puma: Origins of a rivalry between brothers
Published: Tuesday, November 8, 2005
At the opening whistle of a 1970 World Cup finalsmatch, Pelé stopped the referee with a last-second request to tie hisshoelaces and then knelt down to give millions of television viewersa close-up of his Pumas.Pelé was complying with a request by Puma's representative, HansHenningsen, to raise the company's profile after receiving $120,000to wear the shoes.This clandestine advertising was a huge triumph for Puma over Adidas in the early daysof the battle for market supremacy in sports merchandise.Barbara Smit, a Dutch author and journalist, spent five years poring over the archives at Adidas's and Puma's headquarters in the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach to researchRudolf and Adolf Dassler, the brothers who started making sports shoes in theirmother's laundry room in the 1920s before becoming sport and business giants.Her new book, "Drei Streifen gegen Puma," or "Three Stripes Versus Puma," tracks therise of the Dassler brothers during Germany's sport-obsessed 1920s, their cooperation with the Nazis, their ugly postwar split and their hatred-driven competition that createdseparate empires."As embittered rivals, the estranged brothers led their respective companies to the top of the world," Smit wrote. "Muhammad Ali, Franz Beckenbauer and Zinédine Zidane became legends in the three stripes of Adidas while soccer god Pelé and Boris Beckerachieved global fame in Pumas."The book chronicles the decline of Adidas (founded by Adolf "Adi" Dassler) and Puma(founded by Rudolf Dassler) as they were caught off guard by Nike and the failure tospot new trends like the boom in running. Adidas and Puma have recovered from their brushes with disaster as publicly ownedcompanies in the vibrant $17 billion worldwide sports shoe industry, but only after longand messy separations from their family owners."I was fascinated by the mixture of this incredible family rift, the business feud and thesporting triumphs, which forged two mighty brands recognized all over the world," Smit
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