Horst Dassler, Adidas, and the Commercialization of Sport
The case focuses on the career of Horst Dassler, the son of the founder of the German-based sports shoe manufacturer Adidas. The origins of the firm were in the interwar years, and it rose to public prominence after it provided spikes for the famous African-American sprinter in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. From the 1950s Horst cultivated relationships with athletes and national associations to expand his sports apparel business and develop sports sponsorship, competing fiercely against competitors such as Puma and Nike. During the 1970s he played a key role in commercializing the international soccer federation FIFA, including creating a television market for soccer, and he subsequently became a key force behind arranging sponsorships and broadcasting rights for the Olympics. The case explores the drivers of success of this major consumer brand, and provdes the opportunity to discuss the positives and negatives of the globalization and commercialization of sport.