January 28, 2023

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In 1970, adidas and Puma signed the “Pele Pact” – they agreed not to sign a contract with him. Who broke everything?

High Angle View Of Various Sport Equipments On Green Grass

Pele impressed not only with the space game, but also with the numbers in advertising contracts. A few companies could get a superstar, but some deliberately refused this. This happened to adidas and Puma, who once decided that Pele should not go to anyone.

The companies were founded by brothers who quarreled over the war. Puma rose by supplying cleats to clubs and adidas to the national team

The confrontation between the main sports brands in Germany is the story of the quarreling Dassler brothers , the younger Adolf and the older Rudolf. Before the First World War, both worked at their father’s shoe factory in the German town of Herzogenaurach. In 1924, Adolf invited Rudolf to found his own company: Gebrüder Dassler produced sports shoes and quickly conquered the market.

Disagreements began with the rise of the Nazis and intensified during World War II. They closed one of the two factories, and the government confiscated the other to make shoes for the army. After the war, Rudolf was arrested for allegedly collaborating with the Gestapo – the older brother decided that it was because of the younger brother’s denunciation. In the fall of 1946, he was released due to lack of evidence, and two years later, when the brothers’ father died, they divided the business. Rudolph named the company Puma and Adolf named adidas.

By the 1970s, brands controlled most of the athletic shoe market. Puma – produced boots for football players of German clubs, but the national team played in adidas. The younger brother’s company signed a contract to supply shoes before the 1954 World Cup. Then Germany took the gold, which increased the sales of the brand several times. Later, Adolf Dasler’s firm signed contracts with the International Olympic Committee and FIFA.

Puma has been working with Brazilians since 1958. But she did not sign a contract with Pele, so as not to inflate the advertising market

Puma kept up with the main competitor. In 1958, the company made a bet on the Brazilian national team – by that time, Garrincha, Vava and Mario Zagallo played for it. But the main discovery of the World Cup in Sweden was the 18-year-old Pelé, who scored in every playoff match. The Brazilians won the 1958 World Cup, and four years later they scored a double, which significantly strengthened the position of Puma.

The peak of the confrontation between brands came in 1968. Then the Olympics were held in Mexico City, the partner of which was adidas. He actually forbade athletes to wear Puma shoes – they were confiscated from the teams right at customs.

It is surprising that after that the parties at least agreed on something. At that time, sports stars were already brand ambassadors, but they did not conclude a personal contract with the most famous football player. Adidas and Puma agreed that both companies would lose from the Pele deal, because it would inflate the advertising market, and it would become more difficult to negotiate with other players. This is how the “Pele Pact” arose, which was concluded before the 1970 World Cup.

However, Pele himself did not know anything about him.

Pele received $25,000 from Puma just for the World Cup. According to legend, before the quarterfinals, he had to tie his shoelaces in the center circle.

The Pele Pact was violated almost immediately. Shortly before the World Cup, Puma hired journalist Hans Genningsen. He lived in Rio de Janeiro and had good connections in South American football. Gans was told about the secret agreement with adidas and explained that he could sign personal contracts with all Brazil players except Pelé.

The striker did not understand why no one wanted to work with him and made claims to Genningsen. It was then that the pact fell apart: the temptation to pick up a superstar was so great that a Puma representative nevertheless offered Pele a contract.

The deal came out solid: $25,000 (adjusted for inflation, that’s almost $200,000) just for the World Cup and another $100,000 ($770,000) over four years. The contract included the release of a joint line of shoes and a huge amount of promotional materials. In the 1970s, fans knew very well: Puma made boots for Pelé and for them.

Perhaps the deal also meant, as we would say now, native integration. Before the 1970 World Cup quarter-finals against Peru, Pelé stopped in the center circle to tie his shoelaces. It is believed that this was also a publicity stunt, because all the attention was riveted on him – the best football player in the world who plays in Puma.