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Robert Louis-Dreyfus, CEO of Adidas: 1993-2001

Robert Louis-Dreyfus (1946-2009) was a French businessman who was the CEO of Adidas-Salomon from 1993-2001. Robert Louis-Dreyfus was born on the 14th of June, 1946, and died on the 4th of July, 2009; the cause of his death was leukemia, and he died at the age of 63. His father was Jean Louis-Dreyfus, and his mother Jeanne Louis-Dreyfus; his father was Jewish and his mother was Christian. Robert Louis-Dreyfus was a descendant of the founder of the Louis Dreyfus Group: the company is a huge French global conglomerate trading company, who have gross annual sales of over $50 billion. The company is still controlled by the Louis-Dreyfus family; it is overseen by three branches (descendants) of the founder, and Robert Louis-Dreyfus managed one branch of the dynasty.

The classic portrait of Robert Louis-Dreyfus, when he became CEO of Adidas-Salomon in 1994,; as can be viewed, he is wearing an adidas jersey.

Earlier on in his business career Robert Louis-Dreyfus decided to gain experience outside of the family business; he would later rejoin the Louis Dreyfus Group in 2000. Robert Louis-Dreyfus worked for a US pharmaceutical company from 1982-1988; receiving a personal fortune from the sale of the company in 1988. From 1988-1993, Robert Louis-Dreyfus became the CEO for Saatchi & Saatchi; a London based advertising agency. During this period of time, Robert Louis-Dreyfus established close personal/business ties with Bernard Tapie: Robert Louis-Dreyfus was President of the Olympique de Marseille football team when Tapie was the majority shareholder in the early 1990's. Robery Louis-Dreyfus would eventually become the majority shareholder of Olympique de Marseille in 1996.

Bernard Tapie became the majority shareholder of Adidas in 1989, but nearly led Adidas into bankruptcy by 1992. In 1993, Bernard Tapie employed Crédit Lyonnais to sell Adidas, and Robert Louis-Dreyfus led a group of investors who purchased Adidas for $400 million. In 1993, Robert Louis-Dreyfus became the CEO of Adidas-Salomon, and proved hugely successful: bringing the company back to profitability. The most notable decision that Robert Louis-Dreyfus made as CEO of Adidas: was that he purchased the Salomon skiwear and golf equipment company in 1997. Salomon owned the Taylormade golf brand, and this sports brand is still owned by the Adidas Group (AG); as of 2015.

Robert Louis-Dreyfus lowered Adidas' product line, streamlining the company, and increased the marketing of the Adidas brand. Robert Louis-Dreyfus had previously been the CEO of the advertising company Saatchi & Saatchi, therefore, it comes as no surprise that his tenure as CEO of Adidas would focus heavily upon marketing the Adidas brand. The marketing slogan that Adidas used during Robert Louis-Dreyfus's tenure was: “We knew then, we know now”. The slogan was identifying and promoting the heritage of the Adidas brand, but was a clear signal that the company would continue to be at the forefront of sporting goods innovation.