SBJ/20090323/Forty Under 40

Greg Luckman

Age: 35
Title: President, North America
Company: GroupM Entertainment Sports Partnerships
Education: B.A., psychology, Tulane University, 1996
Family: Wife, Beth; daughter, Charley, 2
Career: Started career with the Melbourne (Australia) Reds baseball team; joined Momentum in 1997 as account executive on AmEx; hired by WPP to help create GroupM ESP in February 2007.
Last vacation: Palm Beach, Fla., over the 2008 holidays
Favorite book: Anything by Pat Conroy The Great Santini, Prince of Tides, Lords of Discipline, etc.
Favorite movie: A tie between Rocky and Rocky II
Whats on your iPod? New Orleans funk from my Tulane days, and hip-hop
Pet peeve: People who think I before we
Greatest achievement: Charley Grace Luckman
Greatest disappointment: I havent made a hole-in-one yet.
Fantasy job: Shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls during the Jordan era
Executive you most admire: My mother, Sharon Gersten Luckman, who is the executive director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation
Business advice: Think we before I.

The Luckman you probably know is Sid, a Hall of Fame NFL quarterback who won four NFL championships with the Chicago Bears. The Luckman you may not have heard of yet is Greg, who heads WPP sports and entertainment agency GroupM ESP.

GroupM ESP

Sid, who was Greg’s great-uncle, helped change pro football by popularizing the T-formation. The younger Luckman is trying to effect an equally revolutionary change in sports by showing that sports marketing agencies can work with media-buying shops, which is where most of the money is spent in sports.

Working with WPP’s three GroupM media-buying agencies: Media Edge, Mindshare and MediaCom, since early 2007, Luckman has helped complement the group’s media smarts with sports, entertainment and cause-related marketing acumen. The results have been programs like Citi’s, built around coaching and mentoring in golf; VW’s MLS jersey sponsorship; and Monster’s current NFL director of fandemonium promotion.

“Greg brings a thorough understanding of sponsorship activation and he’s a great steward for our brand,” said Mark Ingall, director of global strategic media and global marketing for Citibank. “Because they [GroupM] are integrated with our media-buying agencies, they are always informed on our marketing and can make good recommendations.”

GroupM ESP has established itself by working not only with WPP agencies, but others as well. Collaboration was something Luckman learned in over a decade working on the American Express account at Momentum.

“Greg was a quick study and he wasn’t starstruck — even with a guy like Tiger Woods,” said Mark Dowley, who hired Luckman at Momentum and is now a partner with IPG’s Hollywood talent agency Endeavor. “People can get so enamored with a star, they can forget the client, but he did a great job developing and maintaining the AmEx relationship.”

Luckman credits his success to teamwork and focus. “We’re building a blueprint on how to activate across consumer passions,” he said. “You might connect originally through sports, but you can further that with music or whatever. If you really understand those passion points, you’ll understand consumers.”

Back to 2009 Forty Under 40 list.

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