Priya de Souza
Senior Director, Global Marketing Communications
Priya spent the first decade of her career heading up commercial partnerships for two of Europe’s most innovative culture and fashion publishing houses i-D and DAZED; transforming their turnover by working with the world’s leading brands on award winning 360 content campaigns to make them more culturally relevant for a youth market.
Priya is now Senior Director of Marketing Communications at Adidas Originals, where she was brought on board to head up global strategic projects with a cultural lense such as the powerhouse collaboration that was Adidas + Gucci.
Here she discusses how she navigated the huge move from media and agency side, to in-house for a huge global brand such as Adidas.
Where are you working now?
I am working at adidas Originals, the fashion and lifestyle arm of adidas
How did you land the job?
I was headhunted for the role. I was actually interviewing for a few companies at the time, but what sealed it for me was my interview with our Creative Director and GM of the brand as we had great chemistry. They didn't seem to be afraid to take risks and I loved their vision. I trusted my intuition and it was the best move for me.
Tell us a bit about your career trajectory?
Well, I spent nearly a decade at Dazed Studio working alongside Jefferson Hack which was incredible, we focused on working with luxury brands to help them become more culturally relevant for a youth market. We never faltered on our creative integrity, used insights from our magazine audience and it felt quite revolutionary at the time. We'd be up against big creative agencies and we'd win, it just felt pretty David and Goliath…and we were such a tight knit family too. I still take that entrepreneurial, rebellious spirit into everything that I do. Eventually though, I got tired of working with various brands and never being able to 'own' their success, I wanted to see more under the bonnet and so I decided to shift brand-side, I've never looked back since.
How did you navigate going from media and agency side to brand side?
I think you've just got to be honest when you've not had experience doing something and ask advice from a field expert and the team around you. Never feel afraid of asking a million questions and always make sure you’re armed with insights and data. The other thing I did was sacrifice having a personal life, my only leverage was 'hours in the seat', so I worked around the clock and gave 110% to the role until I felt like I was becoming the expert. I can honestly say it took a full year for me to know what I was doing in such a large nuanced company.
What does “cool” mean for you?
Cool for me is being unapologetically true to yourself or to your brand values, and never compromising. Being laser sharp on what your ‘cult’ is and owning that niche.
Which projects are you especially proud of?
I mean some of the editorial projects at Dazed still feel so revolutionary to this very day, Dazed 100, Dazed Live - looking back there was creativity coming from every pore of that place. More recently the Adidas x Gucci partnership, which was an amazing example of two powerhouses coming together and working on a very special partnership that felt true to both brands. A great example of how to create brand heat and column inches, which was our ultimate goal.
Who’s been your most inspirational person to be around in the workplace?
I think sometimes there is an assumption you need to be ruthless to get to the top, but I genuinely don't believe that and I will forever make time for my team and treat every single person with respect. I actually find my biggest influence tends to be the people in my team and I feed off their energy. I love to employ smart, early adopters who keep me young and ‘cool.’ I just have a good knack of spotting talent and trends. On a creative note, I always adored working with the Editor Ben Cobb during our time on Another Man, he had the best mix of humility, creativity and kindness which I think is truly special in an Editor-in-Chief.
What advice would you give 21 year old Priya?
Don’t be fooled by the big wigs, no one REALLY knows what they're doing and we’re all just making it up as we go along. Always trust your gut Priya! Also your resilience + drive will lead you further than the rest. Don’t be scared to say ’no,’ it has power.