KATHMANDU: The corporate story of Puma and Adidas is nothing short of a bollywood pot-boiler. It has all the ingredients — money, success, fame, rivalry and the undying lust — to be the best. Two brothers started a company and then split and went on to become each other’s fiercest and finest foes. The two brands born of this rivalry today dominate and define their industry! It is a race to be the ‘first among equals’!
The rivalry between the two brothers and hence the two brands is said to be so fierce that the town of Herzogenaurach (location of the original manufacturing facilities of the two brands) was literally divided, leading to the nickname ‘the town of bent necks’ — people looked down to see which shoes strangers wore. The small river running through the village demarcated the Puma side and the
Adidas side — a virtual social ‘Berlin Wall’! Some anecdotal evidence exists of even restrictions on inter-marriage between Puma and Adidas wearers! (Source: Wikipedia)The Puma and Adidas brands trace their DNA to Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory), a company founded in 1924 by Adolf and Rudolf Dassler, two brothers. After working together for 24 years and building formidable sports shoes brands based on quality and smart marketing, the brothers split to form RU-DA and ADI-DAS (taking letters from their first and family names!). RU-DA was ultimately renamed PUMA in the same year.
Today, both the brands are global names in the field of sports accessories and shoes but differ in their positioning and branding. Two different paths leading up to the same achievement pedestal.
Puma as a brand is predominantly a sports goods manufacturer, having a hugely successful shoe, sports clothing and sports equipment brand that is used and adored by global sports personalities and visible at events ranging from NFL to cricket. It is a brand that defines sporting excellence and stands for using the highest levels of research in developing sports accessories to define moments of sporting success. With the agile pouncing Puma cat as its logo, the brand symbolises athletic prowess. The brand promises performance of ‘individual’ championship and competition.
Adidas, on the other hand, as a brand has a bigger canvas and is positioned as a lifestyle brand more than just a sports brand. With
its signature three stripes shoe design that has been seamlessly represented in its logo, Adidas is the second largest sportswear company in the world and among the most recognised sporting icons. From offering golf accessories to Adidas aftershaves, the brand
is positioned as a chic sports lifestyle company that can be introduced into one’s daily life and can become an extension of one’s sports life in daily life. It encou-rages and promises a nine-to-five ‘sports’ continuation experience.
So, after seven decades of intense rivalry, both companies have successfully managed to identify their strengths and market their brands with a clear and focused positioning that has resulted in both enjoying substantial brand equity nd following.
(The author is associated with the Chaudhary Group and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)