In a world obsessed with cancel culture, a major sportswear brand finds itself in the eye of an absurd storm, where perception and reality blur dangerously, and even a pair of sneakers isn’t safe from political controversy.
In the pre-World War II era, Rudolf and Adolf Dassler, the founders of Puma and Adidas respectively, established their enterprise, oblivious to the fact that they were laying the foundation of two globally renowned sportswear brands. Today, the inception of Puma in Herzogenaurach, Germany seems a world away from the controversy that embroils it – a claim that one of their newest sneakers oddly reminisces the infamous Adolf Hitler.
The contentious sneakers, aptly named Storm Adrenaline, have stirred the pot when viewed from a specific angle – top down. The shoe’s design curiously mirrors the notorious look of Adolf Hitler, featuring a side-swept hairdo and the distinctive mustache. The uncanny resemblance has sparked controversy, catapulting the shoe into internet fame.
The echoes of Hitler in the shoe design, likely unintentional, have made the sneakers an internet sensation, with consumers racing to snatch up a pair. Given Puma’s German roots, the design similarity has sparked concerns and even led some to grade the shoe an “eight out of ten on the Hitler scale.” Adding fuel to the fire, the shoe’s name, Storm Adrenaline, calls to mind the Nazi party’s paramilitary division – the Sturmabteilung, translating to Storm Detachment.
It was in Russia, a nation presently under authoritarian rule, that the design’s likeness to Hitler was first spotted. One disillusioned Russian customer, uncomfortable with the face of the dictator staring back from their shoes, decided to sell the pair and brought the contentious design to light on social media.
One comment from the first observant customer read, “That’s a good one. I never noticed. I used the shoe twice and never realized it until now. I have gotten rid of it. I’ve already sold it.”
A Brazilian customer, puzzled by the unsettling design, questioned Puma’s intent, pointing out that the Hitler resemblance was “not positive” for Puma’s brand identity. There’s a rising clamor for Puma to clarify if the design was a calculated move or a mere coincidence.
A concerned customer from Brazil expressed, “In Brazil, we like, and we buy Puma, and as customers, we would like you guys to say something.” Speculation is rife, with some branding the controversy a potential “publicity stunt” by Puma to draw attention.
Indeed, not all perceive the shoes’ design as others do. Some find the resemblance to Hitler far-fetched and dismiss the claim, as one person remarked, “Adolf Hitler shoes? I did not see it directly. I think it’s a bit farfetched. Good, I have Adidas, not Puma.”
The uncanny resemblance of everyday items to the images of Adolf Hitler or Jesus isn’t novel; in 2011, a house in Swansea, Wales, gained notoriety when its roofline was thought to depict the dictator’s face. The resemblance in Puma’s case, however, is glaringly more apparent, raising questions about the brand’s intent and oversight in design.