Sibling bonds are foundational to family connections, persisting across generations and influencing history's direction. However, within the shared experiences lies a narrative of discord and competition, giving rise to two renowned brands: Adidas and Puma.

The story begins with Adolf "Adi" Dassler and Rudolf "Rudi" Dassler, siblings who jointly established the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik in 1920s Germany. While their collaboration initially yielded innovation and prosperity, beneath the surface lurked simmering tensions that erupted into a bitter feud during World War II and its aftermath.

In 1948, the brothers went their separate ways, each founding their own sportswear empire: Adi launched Adidas, and Rudi established Puma. This split not only divided their family but also gave rise to one of the most intense rivalries in the business world.

What drove these brothers apart? Personal and professional disputes certainly played a role, but at the heart of the conflict lay deep-seated resentment and a refusal to reconcile. This animosity became so intense that the brothers allegedly declared they should never be buried beside one another—a testament to the irreconcilable nature of their differences.

This familial rift transcended mere business competition, shaping the trajectory of Adidas and Puma and influencing local allegiances in their hometown of Herzogenaurach.

Founders/Leader Must Resolve The Conflict

Business owners can draw several valuable lessons from the Adidas-Puma saga. Firstly, it underscores the importance of addressing conflicts head-on rather than allowing them to fester. Secondly, it highlights the necessity of nurturing a culture of collaboration and mutual respect within family businesses to prevent similar rifts from arising.

The Adidas-Puma rivalry serves as a stark reminder that unresolved conflicts can have far-reaching consequences, impacting not only familial relationships but also the success and longevity of businesses.

As business owners, it's essential to recognize the natural causes of conflict and take proactive steps to mitigate them. By fostering open communication, fostering a culture of reconciliation, and prioritizing the long-term health of familial relationships, we can build businesses that thrive for generations to come.

In examining the Adidas-Puma case, it's crucial to understand the profound impact of unresolved family conflicts on business dynamics. Beyond the initial split, the rivalry between the two sportswear giants continued to shape the strategies, marketing efforts, and even product innovation for both companies. While this competition indeed fosters growth and innovation in the sportswear industry, it comes at a cost.

Both companies poured significant resources into outdoing each other, diverting attention and investment away from other potential avenues of growth. Additionally, the intense rivalry often led to a zero-sum mindset, where success for one was perceived as a loss for the other, hindering opportunities for collaboration or mutual benefit.

The legacy of the Adidas-Puma feud extends beyond the confines of the sportswear industry, offering valuable insights into the broader dynamics of family businesses. It underscores the importance of succession planning and transparent governance structures to mitigate the risks of familial conflicts derailing business operations. By establishing mechanisms for conflict resolution and fostering a culture of transparency and accountability, family businesses can navigate challenges more effectively and ensure the continuity of their legacies.

Ultimately, the story of Adidas and Puma serves as a powerful reminder of the delicate balance between familial ties and business interests and the need for proactive measures to preserve both.


Join us for "The W+B Family Governance Leadership Series: Structure, Culture, and Succession" and equip yourself with the tools and strategies to navigate the complexities of family business with clarity and purpose. Don't let unresolved conflicts hold your business back—secure the complete deal for only P9,800 and avail of a one-session pass for P3,800.

The event will take place on May 18 & 22 (9:00 AM - 12:00 NN via Zoom) and May 29, 2024 (10:00 AM face-to-face session with graduation). For inquiries, please reach out to Christine at