Interesting movie about the two Dassler brothers that founded Adidas and their eventual falling out. "Adidas" is a contraction of Adi Dassler, the younger brother who was the master cobbler and tinkerer. He was the Wozniak to Rudi's Steve Jobs. Rudi (Rudolf) left to found Puma, his nickname, for his predatory reputation with the ladies. He even once slept with his brother’s wife!
Like Jobs, Rudi was a natural salesman with a "reality distortion field". He partnered with his brother after getting fired for insubordination and presented their tiny operation as much grander than it really was to get a bank loan.
When they parted ways, Adidas continued to make high quality shoes but was stuck with inventory because Adi could not sell.
While Rudi sold lots of Pumas but had high returns as the shoes often fell apart! Adidas was more successful eventually.
Key Adidas innovations:
· Convincing people that they needed a special shoe just for sports when the world was much poorer, and most people had just a pair or two.
· Introducing spikes on running and soccer shoes, and lighter materials. This helped Germany win the world cup in 1954 and Jesse Owens’ a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics.
· Targeting sports stars and teams as product endorsers. As he spoke no English, Adi wordlessly persuaded Jesse Owens to use his shoe.
Today, in the town where both companies were founded, on one side of the river they wear Puma and on the other Adidas--and do not see eye to eye! It is known as the town of bent necks because people look down at shoes to determine if someone is friend or foe.
P.S. Interestingly, Nike’s founder Phil Knight's 1962 thesis at Stanford Business School was "Will Japanese Shoes Do To German Shoes, What Japanese Cameras Did to German Ones?" (from his memoir Shoe Dog). He initially sourced his shoes from Japanese company Onitsuka (parent of Asics), and eventually eclipsed Adidas and Puma.