Having worked for the company since 1978, I am now a Senior Adviser for PUMA passing on my experiences to my younger colleagues. In my former role I headed up the department of Sports Marketing for PUMA Germany from 2009 until 2012. Before that I was Head of Advertising at PUMA Germany. It’s an honor to present to you some of the most memorable PUMA moments in history. Anecdotes that capture the fascination of our brand, the Fastest Sports Brand in the world.
The brothers Rudolf and Adolf Dassler found the company “Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik“ (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory) in Herzogenaurach, Germany.
First successes: At the Olympic Summer Games in Amsterdam in 1928, a majority of the German athletes wear Dassler spikes. In 1936, Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at the Olympic Games in Berlin sporting Dassler spikes. Overall, seven gold medals and five bronze medals are won by world class athletes in Dassler shoes and two World and five Olympic records are smashed. This represents the international breakthrough for the Dassler brothers.
Rudolf Dassler founds the PUMA Schuhfabrik Rudolf Dassler. The company is officially registered on October 1, 1948. The existing business assets of the “Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik” are divided up between the brothers.
In the same year, PUMA’s first football boot, the “ATOM”, is launched. Several members of the West Germany national team wear PUMA boots in the first post-war football match against Switzerland in 1950, including Herbert Burdenski, who scores West Germany’s first post-war and winning goal.
Shortly after the company is founded, Rudolf Dassler (left in the picture) successfully develops a football boot with screw-in studs in collaboration with experts, such as West Germany’s national coach Sepp Herberger. The launch of the “SUPER ATOM” in 1952, the world’s first boot with screw-in studs, marks the beginning of PUMA’s highly successful heritage in football.
The successor of the screw-in football boot “SUPER ATOM” is coming to the market: the enhanced version “BRASIL” is being developed and tested.
In May 1954, the German Bundesliga team Hanover 96 wins the league and is crowned champions in the final game against FC Kaiserslautern. The majority of the players wear the PUMA “BRASIL”. PUMA celebrates the victory with the advertisement campaign “So war es in Hamburg“.
PUMA also celebrates a big success in athletics: Heinz Fütterer breaks the 100m world record in Yokohama, Japan, sporting PUMA running shoes. Four years later, he sets another world record in the 4x100-m relay.
Rudolf Dassler introduces a sans-serif PUMA typeface, designing a word and picture logo at the same time. One year later, the second brand logo is patented: the “formstrip”, originally created to stabilize the foot inside the shoe, is now a typical PUMA trademark found on almost all PUMA shoes and is used as a design element on apparel products.
PUMA introduces its trademark logo, the unmistakable PUMA formstrip. In the same year PUMA football boots are the only German-made football boots in the final of the World Cup in Sweden. PUMA celebrates the victory of the Brazilian team with an advertising campaign.
PUMA partner Armin Hary continues the company’s success story in track and field and wins gold in the 100m competition at the Olympic Games in Rome. In the same year, PUMA becomes the first sports shoe manufacturer to use the technologically advanced vulcanization production technique, whereby the sole and the shaft of the boot are bonded. This innovation helps PUMA athletes to achieve top performances.
Pelé, for the second time in a row, wins the World Cup in Chile with Brazil in PUMA boots.
At the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Belgium’s Gaston Roelants (3,000m steeplechase), Great Britain’s Mary Rand (long jump) and Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila (marathon) win gold medals wearing PUMA shoes.
Portuguese striker sensation Eusebio is top scorer of the 1966 World Cup in England. Honoring this accomplishment and Eusebio's continued fantastic form, PUMA introduces the legendary King boot in 1968.
The logo with the jumping cat, today one the most famous trademarks worldwide, is created by Lutz Backes, a cartoonist from Nuremberg. As the product range is extended to include not only shoes but also sportswear, the logo begins to appear more frequently on PUMA products such as performance apparel and bags.
The “Sacramento” brush spike amazes with its innovative brush soles – 68 small, only 4mm long bristles in the front area of the foot: Numerous American athletes, who wear the boot, set new world records just a few weeks prior to the games in Mexico. However, according to the association, the shoe is deemed “too dangerous” and consequently banned. All athletes wearing the shoe have their world records withdrawn – a fact that has not been rectified until today.
Nonetheless, PUMA athlete Tommie Smith wins gold in the 200m in similar PUMA spikes and causes a stir: he and his teammate John Carlos (bronze) raise their fists in the Black Power salute, protesting against discrimination of African Americans and other minorities in the USA, apartheid and racism. In addition to Tommie Smith, Lee Evans (400m, 4x400m), Willie Davenport (110m high hurdles) and Bob Seagren (pole-vault) win gold wearing PUMA shoes.
Pelé – again named “Player of the Tournament” – wears PUMA KING boots and helps Brazil win the country’s third World Cup title. Thirty years after this triumph, Pelé is officially honored as “Football Player of the Century”.
The PUMA KING from 1970 comes with a revolutionary flat structure that makes it lighter. In order to increase its softness and comfort, kangaroo leather is used for the very first time.
PUMA-partnered athletes Mary Peters, Great Britain (pentathlon), John Akii-Bua, Uganda (400m hurdles), Randy Williams, USA (long jump) and Klaus Wolfermann, West-Germany (javelin) all win gold medals at the Olympic Games in Munich.
Basketball’s Walt “Clyde” Frazier makes a name for himself on the court by stealing the ball from his opponents and off the court with his signature colorful style. When he asks for a custom-made pair of Suedes, PUMA reconfigures the original, making it lighter and wider and stamping his moniker on the side – the PUMA Clyde is born. Frazier famously wears his Clydes with alternating formstrips, fedoras and long sideburns.
At the World Cup in Germany, “Player of the Tournament” Johan Cruyff wears PUMA football boots and wins the prestigious “European Footballer of the Year” award for the second time in a row. The Dutch national team wears orange jerseys featuring the three stripes of a different supplier. Team captain Johan Cruyff is a PUMA athlete and feels closely connected to the brand; he refuses to play in a different outfit. So a custom-made design is made for him, featuring only two stripes. A legend is born.
In tennis, PUMA has also established a reputation as a supplier of top athletes: In 1977 the Argentinean Guillermo Vilas wins the French, the US and the Australian Open wearing PUMA tennis shoes.
Since 1979, the puma has been jumping across the right upper corner of the word logo and it has slightly changed over the years: the eye and nuzzle are gone, and the ears are more pronounced today. PUMA’s world famous ‘No. 1 logo’ is introduced.
Diego Armando Maradona of Argentina plays his first World Cup tournament wearing the new PUMA TORERO boot.
The TORERO, an invention by company founder Rudolf Dassler’s son Armin (pictured), is equipped with a highly flexible DUOFLEX sole with two joint zones.
Evelyn Ashford wins two Gold medals (100 meters/4 x 100 meters) in PUMA spikes at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The ceremony wear of the German Olympic team is provided by PUMA.
The 80’s are dominated by the tennis boom, triggered by the then 17-year-old Boris Becker and his spectacular victory in Wimbledon in 1985. As the youngest, first unseeded and first German player, he wins the tournament, all whilst wearing PUMA shoes and sporting a PUMA racket. Becker is one of the first players to adopt a mid-top shoe. He works closely with PUMA to develop his signature model which prevents ankle turning, therefore encouraging more risk-taking on the court.
From 1984 to 1987, PUMA also has Martina Navrátilová under contract, the most successful female tennis player of her time.
The company goes public as “PUMA AG” and the PUMA stock is traded on the Munich and Frankfurt stock exchanges. Armin Dassler, PUMA CEO and son of the company founder Rudolf Dassler (centre), is celebrating this moment with his colleagues from the PUMA board.
In the world of football, one player is dominating the headlines: four years after his first World Cup appearance in Spain, Diego Armando Maradona goes down in history with his second goal in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Mexico against England. He passes 6 players, touches the ball 11 times and scores the “Goal of the Century”. He is awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player and leads Argentina to its second World Cup title after 1978. Maradona had played every minute of every game – and he had played them in KINGs
PUMA KING player Lothar Matthäus leads Germany to the country’s World Cup title in Italy. The captain of the national team is also voted “European Footballer of the Year”, “World Footballer of the Year” and “World Athlete”.
PUMA’s Trinomic technology first takes shape in the Running arena in 1989. It features clear rubber hexagon cells which collapse and expand to provide cushioning, flexibility, and stability. The Trinomic family features many gamechangers, including the PUMA Disc. Launched in 1991, the Disc is the first laceless sports shoe with a system of internal wires that tighten the upper for a perfect fit.
At the Barcelona Olympics, Heike Drechsler (long jump), Dieter Baumann (5.000m), both German, and Great Britain’s Linford Christie (100m) all clinch Gold medals wearing PUMA spikes.
At the Track and Field World Championships in Stuttgart on year later, Germany’s Heike Drechsler, Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey, Linford Christie and Colin Jackson (both UK) – “PUMA’s Fantastic Four” – all win Gold medals.
Jochen Zeitz is appointed CEO at the age of 30, becoming the youngest Chairman in German history to head a public company. Zeitz spearheads the restructuring of PUMA, in financial difficulties at the time, and manages to turn it from a low price brand into a premium Sportlifestyle company and one of the top three brands in the sporting goods industry.
At the Olympic Games in Atlanta, PUMA causes a stir with a creative contact lens campaign: at a press conference prior to the Games, Linford Christie appears with a white PUMA cat on top of his pupils. PUMA’s contact lens campaign later becomes a symbol for innovative marketing, not only in the sports industry but far beyond.
As the first sports brand, PUMA merges sports and fashion through a cooperation with star designer Jil Sander. Lifestyle versions of the “KING” and the running shoe “Easy Rider” are launched in close collaboration and become desired fashion sneakers. They combine PUMA’s authenticity and performance credibility with Jil Sander’s classic style.
PUMA signs Serena Williams. One year later she wins her first Grand Slam Tournament, the US Open. In 2002, PUMA and Serena Williams unveil the “Serena Williams Tennis Collection”. In the same year, she causes a stir worldwide in her skintight “Catsuit”, wins at Wimbledon and is ranked number one in the world for the first time in her career.
PUMA launches the “Mostro” and initiates one of the largest trends of the last decades: the fusion of sports and lifestyle. The PUMA Mostro with its typical Velcro fastener and spike sole is a combination of two shoes – the Sprintspike from 1968 and a surfing shoe from the 80’s. The result is a brand new and unprecedented lifestyle shoe which is quickly picked up by fashion icons like Madonna. In 2002, she wears a pair of PUMA Mostro shoes throughout her tour and sets a worldwide trend.
The PUMA Speedcat is born. The model originates in Formula One and represents PUMA’s long-standing competence in motorsports. Originally designed in 1998 as a fireproof version for F1 pilots, the Speedcat quickly enters the fashion world thanks to its innovative and elegant low-profile look with the characteristic stitched cat logo.
PUMA announces the acquisition the Tretorn Group. Founded in 1891 in Helsingborg, Sweden, Tretorn creates performance and leisure products including Rubber boots, Footwear, Outerwear, Riding boots and Tennis balls. The brand’s mission is to become a global premium sportswear brand that inspires an active, urban to country lifestyle.
PUMA’s new CELLERATOR football boot, SHUDOH is launched. At the Korea/Japan World Cup, PUMA player El Hadji Diouf is selected for the FIFA World Cup All Star Team and Korea’s Jung Hwan Ahn impresses the world by kicking Italy out with a “Golden Goal” and securing a spot in the semi-finals for the host country.
The PUMA partnered Cameroon National Team arrives at the Africa Cup of Nations without sleeves – and takes the 2002 Africa Cup home to Yaoundé.
In 2004, the “Indomitable Lions” follow up with their equally controversial one-piece PUMA UniQT, which removed unnecessary bulk and limited shirt-grabs by opponents. FIFA punishes the team by revoking six points in the qualification for the 2006 World Cup and imposes a fine. PUMA launches a public campaign in support of Cameroon and sues FIFA against the prohibition of the jersey. The legal dispute ends with a compromise and a shared donation to a football development project in Cameroon.
PUMA and Ferrari announce that they have signed a multi-year contract making PUMA the official supplier of Scuderia Ferrari, the most successful Formula One team of all times. The partnership with Ferrari also allows PUMA to develop licensed Ferrari footwear, apparel and accessories for global distribution.
With 12 out of 32 teams, PUMA is the biggest team supplier at the Football World Cup in Germany – and for the first time in company history, a PUMA sponsored national team wins the World Cup: on July 9th, the Squadra Azzurra of Italy beats France 5:3 after penalty shoot outs in Berlin and is crowned
World Cup Champion for the fourth time.
The next product innovation from PUMA also arrives in time for the 2006 World Cup: The “SPEED BOOT V1.06” is the world’s lightest football boot at the time, weighing barely 200g.
The PPR group (named Kering as of 2013) – a world leader in apparel and accessories – acquires over 60% of PUMA’s shares. The consolidation strengthens PUMA’s position and creates a perfect platform for the continued global expansion of the company.
PUMA sets sail for the first time by entering its own sailing yacht “il mostro” into one of the longest and most difficult sailing races in the world – the Volvo Ocean Race. The Race, known as the “Everest of Sailing”, is a 37,000 nautical mile (68,524 km) around the world adventure and is one of the world’s toughest sporting events.
At the Beijing Olympics, PUMA athlete Usain Bolt – the World’s Fastest Man – sets a 100m world record at 9.69 seconds and sprints 200m in a world record time of 19.30 seconds, beating Michael Johnson’s 1996 record by two hundreds of a second. He wins his third gold medal as Jamaica shatters the world record at 4 x 100m relay in 37.10 seconds, taking 0.30 off the USA’s mark which was set 15 years prior to that
Usain “Lightning” Bolt breaks his own 100m world record with an amazing time of 9.58 seconds at the World Championships in Athletics in Berlin. He also smashes his 200m world record from 2008 to become the World Champion in 19.19 seconds. With the Jamaican team coming in first in the 4x100 relay, he adds another gold medal and World Championship title to his track record.
PUMA sponsors seven football federations at the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa, including the African Teams Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Algeria, alongside Italy, Switzerland and Uruguay, and unveils the world’s first continental football kit, the “Africa Unity Kit” endorsed by all PUMA-sponsored African teams.
PUMA acquires the golf equipment brand Cobra Golf, which is fully integrated into the PUMA Group as COBRA PUMA GOLF. This enables PUMA to provide a complete range of golfing products to the consumer and to become an important player in the golf sector.
Since he became the 2010 PGA Rookie of the Year, Rickie Fowler has become a name synonymous with Sunday orange, quick-to-act playing tactics, and the next generation of golf. He has a proven knack for “firsts.” He is the first motocross racer turned pro golfer as well as the first rookie picked for the Ryder Cup team.
PUMA transforms into a European Corporation and trades under the name of PUMA SE. With the completion of the transformation, Franz Koch becomes Chief Executive Officer and succeeds Jochen Zeitz after 18 years as Chairman and CEO of PUMA AG.
PUMA adds German Bundesliga Champion, Borussia Dortmund, to its football portfolio. BVB makes it to the Champions League final in the first season of the partnership headed by their charismatic coach, PUMA partner Jürgen Klopp. PUMA star Marco Reus plays a crucial role for Dortmund’s ongoing success.
At the Olympics in London, PUMA outfitted track and field athletes win 19 medals, of which the Jamaican team alone collects twelve. Usain Bolt, who finishes his second successive Olympics with three gold medals, proves his undisputed status as a sporting legend by becoming the first man ever to defend both the 100m and 200m Olympic titles.
The Administrative Board of PUMA SE appoints Norwegian Bjørn Gulden as new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective 1 July 2013. The former football professional brings to PUMA an extensive international experience of nearly 20 years in the sporting goods and footwear industry, where he held a variety of management positions.
PUMA signs International Icon Mario Balotelli. The Italy Striker becomes the latest sporting sensation to join PUMA’s family of star players and athletes that includes Usain Bolt, Sergio Agüero, Cesc Fàbregas, Marco Reus, Radamel Falcao and Rickie Fowler.
PUMA introduces its most powerful boot evoPOWER. Inspired by the freedom of movement of barefoot kicking, evoPOWER features the most advanced PUMA technologies to date and is designed to enhance a player's natural kicking ability as well as power and accuracy when striking the ball.
PUMA and Arsenal Football Club announce a long-term partnership, effective 1 July 2014. PUMA has acquired wide-ranging licensing rights to develop Arsenal branded merchandise on a global basis. It represents the biggest deal in both PUMA’s and Arsenal’s history.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil proves to be a fantastic stage for PUMA’s innovative football products: Both the eight different National Team shirts featuring PUMA’s apparel innovation PWR ACTV as well as PUMA’s colourful pink and blue interpretation of its revolutionary evoPOWER and evoSPEED football boots “Tricks” – spotted in 72% of all games – are eye-catchers and create lots of positive headlines.
Rihanna becomes PUMA’s global ambassador for Women’s Training and serves as the PUMA Women’s Creative Director, where she directly influences product collections. She also works to design and customize classic PUMA styles and create new product lines.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and PUMA announced a new comprehensive partnership that will see the Global Sports Brand operate as the FIGC’s lead partner into the next decade. In addition to being the official supplier, PUMA has extended and increased its marketing rights as well as retaining the exclusive Master License to actively manage the entire global licensing portfolio of FIGC assets.
Sports company PUMA and Kering Eyewear have signed an eyewear partnership agreement for optical frames and sunglasses, fully effective January 2016. The license agreement with Charmant terminates at the same time.
PUMA sells Tretorn Group including trademark rights, patents and designs.
PUMA becomes the outfitter the RED BULL RACING F1 team, supplying performance racewear, footwear and teamwear.
The UEFA Euro 2016 in France proves to be a great stage to showcase PUMA as an innovative and design driven sports brand. With an on-field presence of almost 40% across all matches, PUMA’s five participating teams secure a strong visibility with their kits featuring PUMA’s apparel technology ACTV Thermo-R. France's Antoine Griezmann was voted Player of the Tournament by the UEFA after being the top scorer with six goals that he shot in his dual coloured PUMA Tricks boots.
PUMA signs a partnership with the Athletics Association of Barbados (AAB). One of the most celebrated athletes at the Summer Games is Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who for the third time in a row won Gold medals in all three of his disciplines, achieving a “Triple-Triple” in 100m sprint, 200m sprint and 4x100m relay with his team, extending his record-breaking personal haul of IAAF World Championships gold medals to 11. The stellar performances of the Jamaican Team, which finished second in the medals table, as well as the performances of the other PUMA teams including the Bahamas, Cuba, Grenada, Cayman Islands, Switzerland and the Dominican Republic, secure a strong brand visibility of PUMA throughout the competition.