Martin Karaffa

Marty specializes in the complex task of transforming global brands to meet cultural challenges, and empowering the teams that build them. He’s led cross-cultural teams to breakthroughs that turbocharged global marketing communications, innovation, and brand strength.

Strong brands have strong values, and values define culture. Marty uses the Hofstede dimensions to discover the cultural tribe with whom your brand most resonates, and the steps you take to find them in any specific market.

Strong brands have strong company cultures behind them. The Hofstede dimensions can evaluate your brand team’s cultural profile for fit with the consumers they address. He’ll demonstrate how to manage team culture to interact with consumer culture profitably.

Marty has been lauded as a highly effective cross-cultural moderator, and inspiring speaker. He specializes in bringing high Power Distance and Uncertainty Avoidance cultures (such as those from Asia) into brainstorming and other group discussions.

While he works across all brand categories, Marty has special expertise in automotive, luxury goods, financial, government, food and alcoholic drinks sectors.

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Born in Pittsburgh, Marty completed his education in Australia. He graduated with a BA in Linguistics from the University of Adelaide, and enjoyed an award-winning career in advertising as a writer and creative director before turning to the strategic discipline. As a writer, he’s been recognized at Cannes, New York Festivals, Clio, New York Art Director’s Club, London International Advertising Awards, The One Show, and The Hollywood Film and Television Society for his work on Mattel, The Melbourne Age newspaper, Ford and others.

In 2000, he was appointed deputy head of strategy at J. Walter Thompson Tokyo, working for clients such as Diageo, Citifinancial, Ford, Jaguar, Kellogg and Nestle Kit Kat. For his work on Kit Kat, he won an Asian Brand Marketing Effectiveness award, work which sparked the celebrated Kit Kat phenomenon that grips Japan.

Thereafter, JWT posted him to New York, as SVP Global Planning Director on Johnson and Johnson brands, including Listerine and Purell, working closely with the Pfizer Innovation Group. Here, he won a coveted WPP Atticus Award for his presentation to the Economist Corporate Network, Brand Crazy Japan.

Before becoming an Associate Partner of Hofstede Insights in 2018, Marty spent eleven years as International Planning Director of BBDO Worldwide, based in Munich. He was charged with the strategic management of the global network of Daimler agencies, building brands such as Mercedes-Benz as it reached global leadership in luxury cars.

In his private life, he practices what he preaches about interculturalism. He lives with his husband Masa, a Kobe native, in Munich. Thanks to very different scores on the dimension of Uncertainty Avoidance, they try not to cook together.