Every great story has to start somewhere.
The Adidas story began in Bavaria, Germany in the early 1900s where Adi Dassler, a keen athlete, began experimenting with making shoes in his mother’s laundry room. In 1924, Dassler took the first step in the process of launching his own company. He registered the ”Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik ” and started his mission of attempting to provide athletes with the best possible footwear. Adi Dassler was able to earn athletes’ trust by listening to them and their expectations towards footwear. It was to prove a winning strategy. Sprinter Lina Radke won a gold medal for Germany wearing Dassler’s footwear at the Olympic games in Amsterdam in 1928. Gold medals in the Berlin Olympics followed and were early milestones in the Adidas success story.
On August 18th, 1949 Adi Dassler took the next step in creating his legendary brand, registering the “Adi Dassler adidas Sportschuhfabrik” and employing 47 new workers in a small town called Herzogenaurach. That same year, Dassler registered a shoe that included the soon to become world-famous Adidas three stripes. This design element is now part of the brand logo and features in just about every piece created by Adidas.
1954 went down in football history for what was known in Germany as the “Miracle of Bern”. The German national football team beat the Hungarians in the World Cup final, wearing Adidas footwear featuring screw-in-studs. This Adidas innovation helped the footballers keep a good grip while playing on the field. At this point Adidas became a household name. A decade later Adidas expanded to produce apparel, releasing its Franz Beckenbauer tracksuit, named after the German footballer, and sporting the now familiar three strips down the arms and legs. The tracksuit opened a whole new business line for the company that had so far only been known for its footwear.
Secret to success
Dassler’s secret to success and ability to earn the trust of world-class athletes was his close connection with them. He would go to them or they would come to him, and he would listen carefully to what they had to say and constantly observe what improvements could be made or had to be invented to support all their needs. Adidas was a trusted company from the beginning and that wasn’t going to change anytime soon.
In 1970 Adidas created their own official football, the black and white paneled TELSTAR, for the 1970 FIFA world cup. The football was designed in order to improve visibility on black and white tv screens. It was the beginning of a wonderful partnership for Adidas, which would go on to provide the official match ball to every FIFA world cup that followed, a huge achievement! The world turned its eyes on Germany when the Olympic games opened in Munich in 1972. It was there that Adidas presented their new logo - a trefoil incorporating the three stripes – which is still in use decades later. The three-striped brand kept expanding more and more over the years, especially in the sports sector. Many successful athletes believed and trusted in Adidas, who made the German brand what it is today.
The end of Dassler's era
In 1978 Adi Dassler, the creator of Adidas passed away shortly before his 78th birthday. The man who had redefined the sporting goods industry left behind a flourishing company. It was the end of Dassler’s era but the start of a new chapter for the family firm: Adi’s wife took over, with the support of their son Horst. Six years after Adi’s passing, Adidas released a new shoe that was way ahead of its time. The Micropacer featured a system known as miCoach that was able to provide performance statistics to all the athletes that wore the shoe – a bit like wearing a computer on your feet. In 1986 the hiphop group Run DMC released a track called “My Adidas”. The new track was all about setting the record straight about hard working people and pure enthusiasm for Adidas sneakers. The track was an instant hit and it made Run DMC one of Adidas’ partners. In the late 1980s both Horst Dassler and his mother Käthe died, leaving Adidas in a difficult situation. Adi’s daughters decided to sell their shares of the company. The change of leader and certain strategic decisions nearly caused bankruptcy for Adidas. But it was about to make a spectacular comeback. Robert Louis-Dreyfus became the new CEO of Adidas in 1993. Together with his partner, Christian Tourres, he understood that Adidas didn’t need to be reinvented, it just needed to be led in the right direction.
In 2004 one of the most memorable marketing campaigns for Adidas was made. It included some of the greatest athletes of the time, like English footballer David Beckham and Ethipian track athlete Haile Gebrselassie, facing their biggest fears. Defeats and challenges only prove that “impossible is nothing”, which became the slogan for all those seeking to achieve personal goals.
Today Adidas is one of the most successful sneaker and sportswear companies in the world, recognizable by its logo at one glance. Adidas won’t be slowing down any time soon.