His innovation helped usher in an age of advertising attuned to global marketing. Founder of Paul Kittay International Advertising.
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Founder, President and CEO of PKI Advertising
Favorite Adelphi classes: Spanish and Statistics.
Best college moment: Defeating Hofstra 8-3 in men’s lacrosse.
Favorite professor: Dr. Richardson, Spanish.
Extracurricular achievements: Captain of AU lacrosse team and actor in the theatre program.
Best known for: Groundbreaking advertising campaign for Leche Carabobo milk.
The Harder You Work, the Luckier You Get
Opportunity has knocked on Paul Kittay’s door in countless ways. Whether it has come in the form of international business and political ventures, a conversation with Ernest Hemingway, or a spontaneous change of varsity sport, he has always found a way to answer the call.
Mr. Kittay came to Adelphi in 1946 after attending the University of Wisconsin for one year and completing his tour of service in the U.S. Navy. While pursuing a business major and a spanish minor, he also found time to lead the men’s lacrosse team, join the Sigma Delta Pi Honor Society, and appear in University theatre productions.
Turning adversity into triumph became a mantra early in Mr. Kittay’s college career. During his first year at Adelphi, a baseball career-ending arm injury forced him to reconsider his options. He had barely left the playing field before taking his place as the goalie on the men’s lacrosse team. He eventually became team captain.
Shortly after graduating from Adelphi, Mr. Kittay and a good friend attempted an impromptu visit to Ernest Hemingway while vacationing in Cuba. Upon discovering that “Papa” lived locally, they braved an hour-long bus voyage, where Mr. Kittay was mistaken for Hemingway’s visiting son. He vividly recalls his discussion with Hemingway of baseball, boxing, and bull-fighting. He displays with pride his black and white portrait with the legendary writer, and still marvels at the incredible circumstances of their encounter.
After Adelphi, Mr. Kittay followed a chance opportunity to join a fellow New Yorker at a beverage distribution company in Venezuela. By 1960, less than three years later, he had founded his own advertising firm and continued his lifelong passion for acting by becoming a principal player in the Caracas Theater Club. Success came to Mr. Kittay’s young business in the form of a revolutionary ad campaign for the Leche Carabobo milk company.
With the help of the lovable mascot “Mama Carabobo,” he was able to blend his growing mastery of local humor and business into a nationally recognized effort to bring a then unknown type of brand awareness to the milk industry. Mr. Kittay leveraged this success into a lucrative partnership with Grey Advertising that brought him back to his native New York City in 1972 as head of Latin America for Grey.
After only a few years, he took his expertise, and his love for a challenge, and founded Paul Kittay International Advertising (PKI). No doubt his experience with foreign language sensibilities assisted him as he guided brands as well-known as Coppertone in the multi-national, multi-lingual marketing of their products. His innovation helped usher in an age of advertising attuned to global marketing.
It was undoubtedly the same ability to capitalize on a moment’s opportunity that brought him into a partnership with political consultant David Garth in 1978. Together they helped to rewrite the rules of political campaigning in Venezuela. By combining American experience on issues with an advertiser’s natural flair for character and flavor, Mr. Kittay and Mr. Garth successfully ushered Louis Herrera Campins into the Venezuelan presidency. Their partnership continued to yield other electoral successes in South America.
Today, Mr. Kittay lives in New York City with his wife, Harriet, an accomplished sculptor. He is semi-retired and devotes himself to his three children and five grandchildren. He remembers his time at Adelphi with fondness, and especially recalls the joys of Professor Richardson’s Spanish classes. Mr. Kittay’s keen interest in Spanish set him apart from many of his classmates in 1946, and has certainly contributed to a life of opportunity and success.
Mr. Kittay has channeled some of his success into a lasting tribute: frequent visitors to Vermont may recognize the name of the Rosalind K. Kittay Library, named in memory of his late mother. Rosalind was a native of Rupert, Vermont, and Mr. Kittay’s family summers in the Green Mountains helped broaden his horizons at a young age.
The advice he imparts to current Adelphi students could not be more fitting for a man who has truly seized every day. “Believe in luck, but you’ll find that the harder you work, the luckier you get.”
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