THE EVOLUTION OF SOUZA
Robert Souza is the CEO of Souza Relationship Marketing, a bespoke, business-to-business PR firm. “My hobby is people,” Robert says. “People keep me interested. I want to do everything I love with people, 24/7, day and night. Together, we create magic.”
Fashion & Event Marketing (1994–2004)
In 1994, Robert moved from Toronto to New York City to become the Director of Sales and Marketing of HUGO Hugo Boss. Seeking to position the new label as the younger, hipper brother to the established mega-brand, he launched the first HUGO fashion event in the Hamptons, and created a temporary showroom in Soho. This was the first of many events that exhibited Robert’s ability to integrate brand, event, and lifestyle promotion through his curated approach.
After relocating to Miami in 1998 and spearheading the Hugo Boss Latin America and Caribbean operation, Robert successfully grew the business by 60 percent. Two years later, he joined American leather designer Robert Comstock as Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, and helped launch Comstock’s luxury sportswear line for men.
In 2002, Robert returned to Hugo Boss and joined its parent company, Marzotto USA, where he served as Director of Sales and Marketing for the fashion-forward sportswear collection, Marzotto Lab. After acquiring Valentino, he was appointed in an identical role at Valentino Men’s. Robert quickly repositioned Valentino Men’s as a modern sartorial brand, creating buzz by outfitting a then-unknown John Legend for all his performances and appearances after listening to an advance copy of his debut album, Get Lifted. The record went multi-platinum, and John Legend went on to win three Grammy Awards. Today, Valentino Men’s is now not only sold in all major department and specialty stores, but has become a red-carpet staple and continues to push boundaries for sophisticated menswear.
This keen ability to merge the high-profile worlds of fashion and music brought Robert to the 2004 release of Valentino R.E.D., an edgy new men’s label. For the launch, Robert conceptualized a cross-marketing campaign by staging a rock concert at the Bergdorf Goodman’s flagship men’s store. The Irish band MrNorth performed while wearing pieces from the label, elevating the everyday in-store event into something memorable and new.
Lifestyle Marketing & Luxury Brand Development (2006–2016)
Bolstered by his unique vision and an energetic, long-term deal flow philosophy, in 2006 Robert launched Souza & Associates, a 360-degree approach to lifestyle marketing and luxury brand development. Clients included a range of luxury and lifestyle brands, including the Valentino Group, Volvic, Ferrari, Audemars Piguet, Bagatelle Restaurant Group, and Four Seasons Hotels. As Souza & Associates grew, the business focused on creating innovative partnerships, collaborations, and influencer relationships with notable celebrities and VIPs. , Robert accepted a consulting CMO role at Havas Luxe in New York, working for president Thomas Serrano, with the intention of being acquired.
In 2014, Souza & Associates was acquired by Gary Vaynerchuk of Vayner Media, and Robert launched Vayner Live, Vayner Media’s new life activation experiential division. For the next two years, this chapter in Robert’s career was defined by the synergy between media and tech, seen in a series of experiential activations Robert ran at music festivals (SXSW) and film festivals (Cannes Lions) for clients such as Pepsi Co., Mondelēz International, Inc., and G.E. The most significant of these events was Food Loves Tech, a 2016 partnership between Vayner Media and Edible, in collaboration with Creative Director Irwin Adam Eydelnantat.
Bespoke Business-to-Business PR (2016–Present)
In 2016, Gary Vaynerchuk hired Robert as a consultant, directly investing in the extensive personal network Robert built over 30 years. This dynamic structure—created from a very organic, authentic request—formed the blueprint of a new business. Robert pivoted into this one-of-a-kind model of representation, leading to the creation of Souza Relationship Marketing in 2017.