The 5 Most Famous Company Rivalries of All Time

Market competition provides motivation for businesses to do better, and further, these rivalries can result in lower prices for consumers. However, there are some cases where these company rivalries have gone on for decades, and resulted in many memorable moments. Here’s the 5 most significant company rivalries of all time.

Table of Contents

1. Adidas v Puma

Adolf and Rudolf Dassler were two brothers who founded Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (the ‘Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory’). The company made sports shoes, with Jesse Owens even sporting them. However, after World War Two, there was a rift between the two brothers which would see Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik be disbanded. Adolf went on to start Adidas, with Rudolf starting Puma. Both companies had a fierce rivalry throughout the mid-to-late twentieth century, with Adidas becoming the larger of the two companies. Although Adidas has more than quadruple the number of employees that Puma has, Puma claims to be superior as Usain Bolt a.k.a ‘the fastest man in the world’ wears Puma shoes.

Who reigned victorious? Adidas

2. McDonald’s v Burger King

Although in Australia most people would think that the rivalry exists between McDonald’s and Hungry Jack’s, Hungry Jack’s is in fact a subsidiary of the Burger King Corporation. Both companies were founded more than half a century ago, and there’s been a rivalry ever since. Much of this has involved each company lifting ideas from the other. For example, McDonald’s only introduced their Big Mac Burger after Burger King introduced the Whopper in 1957. Since then, McDonald’s has grown to dominate the fast food market in both Australia and the United States.

Who reigned victorious? McDonald’s

3. Mastercard v Visa

Mastercard started as a response to the release of the ‘BankAmericard’, which later became Visa. Both companies played leading roles in the credit card’s rise to prominence in the 1980s. However, despite the increasing use of alternative online payment platforms such as PayPal, this is a rivalry that hasn’t cooled off just yet. Both companies haven been trying to expand into Fintech and cross-border payments. This can be seen first-hand in a bidding war which happened earlier this year. Visa first made a $200 million bid to purchase Earthport, which is a company that facilitates cross-border payments. Mastercard soon offered $300 million for the company, with Visa making a final and successful bid of $320 million. Mastercard and Visa have both has to expand beyond their traditional offerings to compete in an increasingly tech-driven and global market. Only time will tell which company will dominate this space as well (so far, Mastercard has invested far more in cross-border payment services).

Who reigned victorious? We’d have to call this one a tie

4. Coca Cola v Pepsi

By the time Pepsi-Cola was founded in the late 1890s, Coca Cola was already an established brand. However within a few decades, Pepsi Cola had all but caught up to Coca Cola in terms of marketing and the beverages they offered. Over time, Pepsi diverged into the snack foods market, acquiring Doritos amongst many other food products. Both brands have re-designed their logos and paid millions in celebrity endorsements over the years. Most recently, Coke’s ‘share a Coke’ campaign (where bottles were personalised with individual names) saw their sales increase by more than 2%.

Who reigned victorious? We’d have to call this one a tie

5. Microsoft v Apple

The computer revolution in the 1980s saw two companies reign supreme – Microsoft and Apple. Although Microsoft started off having the dominant share in the PC market, after 1997 (when Bill Gates invested a hefty sum in Apple), Apple expanded into smaller gadgets. This expansion saw the release of the iPod, iPad, Apple watch, iPhone and a new and improved MacBook. Microsoft came back with the Microsoft Surface Pro, and went on to expand into other areas – purchasing Skype, Outlook (formerly known as hotmail) and even LinkedIn. Perhaps the lesson here, as Pepsi also learnt, is not to compete directly with a rival when they’ve already dominated the market – but rather expand to infiltrate other arenas.

Who reigned victorious? We’d have to call this one a tie

As these companies show, a healthy dose of competition can be hugely beneficial to consumers. Further, it encourages companies engaged in rivalries to innovate and make themselves better. After all, there’s nothing like having a nemesis inspire you to be the best version of yourself.

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