advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Adidas and the Nazis.

Lot of stuff gets sent in here. (OH, you have no idea.) I got this Adidas spec work sent in from DP Igor Martinovic promoting the World Cup. Nice stuff, good track and all, but it reminded me of the history of the brand. We were talking recently on AdVerve about clients and how at some point as a creative, you should be aware of their history.

It’s something Harry Webber brought up this week too on the Beancast with Toyota’s war roots (and something he’ll discuss more with us on a future AdVerve). Some of that history also made it into a lot of the brand quiz I threw together, like how old Coke was, or how Puma’s roots had ties to the Nazi Party.

So did Adidas.

Ruda and Adidas were the second iterations of one shoe company run by brothers Rudolf and Adolph Dassler called, well, Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory, started in 1924. The future sports heritage of Adidas was cemented when at the 1936 Olympics, Jesse Owens became the first African American athlete to endorse a shoe.

Both brothers would join the Nazi party during WWII, and subsequently, split up over a misunderstanding. The result: Two separate shoe companies called Ruda and Adidas. (Both names formed by the letters of their first and last names.) Ruda was changed shortly after to Puma and the rest is shoe history.

Does it matter that both had Nazi affiliation, even indirectly? Probably not to the urban crowd that loves these brands now, if any of them even know that history. That’s not to say everyone forgives what a company does. Union Carbide and Bhopal, Enron, Exxon and the Valedez spill or now, BP.

But is what a company does different than the affiliations of some of its executives or employees?

No comments: