Rudolf Dassler, brother and business partner of Adidas founder Adolf
Dassler, founded his own sporting goods company in 1948: named Ruda. Rudolf
founded his company a year before his brother Adolf Dassler founded his
own company (Adidas). Rudolf Dassler named his company Ruda by combining
the first two letters from his first name and surname. Adolf 'Adi' Dassler
copied his brother by combining the first three letters from his first
name and surname.
Due to the feud between the two brothers - they had previously been business
partners - Rudolf did not want his brother to copy how his company name
was devised, and decided to rename his company to: Puma Schuhfabrik
Rudolf Dassler. Ruda was founded in 1948, and was located in Herzogenaurach;
a small town where the Dassler Brothers had owned a shoe factory and where
Adidas were also based. However, Rudolf moved his company north of the
Aurach River, whereas Adidas would initially be located on the southern
banks of the Aurach River.
The acrimonious split and feud between the two brothers provided the
fuel to drive Adidas and Puma to compete and become global sports brands.
The Dassler Brothers shoe factory - which operated from 1924-1948 - was
a highly successful sports good company and produced over 100,000 pairs
of shoes a year. Dassler Brothers shoes were worn by prominent athletes
at the Olympic Games; such as Jessie Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Adolf Dassler was the design genius behind the company, and Rudolf Dassler
was the businessman who organised and marketed the brand.
When the Dassler brothers founded their own companies in 1948 and 1949,
they both lacked a skills set. While Adolf Dassler's wife and son would
take over Rudolf's role of organising and marketing his shoes, Rudolf
needed to find a designer to create his footwear. Adidas and Puma primarily
manufactured footwear in the 1950's and 1960's. The first Puma football
boot was named the "ATOM", and members of West Germany's football
team wore the boot in 1950. In 1952, Puma developed the SUPER ATOM,
the first football boot with screw-in studs.
While Rudolf lacked the design genius of his brother (Adolf), it did
not stop him from employing designers that helped Puma become the first
company to develop a vulcanisation production technique for shoe soles.
Lutz Backes designed the 'jumping cat' logo for Puma in 1967, and Pele
endorsed Puma products throughout the 1960's and 1970's. Adidas and Puma
competed to persuade sports celebrities to wear their footwear at global
sports events. Puma, under Rudolf's management, persuaded the following
sports celebrities to wear Pumas: Pele, Herbert Burdenski, Armin Hary
and John Akii-Bua.