SBJ/March 18-24, 2013/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40

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Photo by: CAA
After capturing two Forty Under 40 awards at GroupM Entertainment & Sports Partnerships, Greg Luckman left the comfort of an established company within one of the world’s largest media-buying firms (WPP) in 2011 for what was essentially a startup. However, less than two years after establishing a sports consulting business at CAA, an agency far more renowned for entertainment than sports, Luckman is back in Forty Under 40 again, making it a hat trick that carries with it Hall of Fame accolades.

Call it a Lucky move.

“Honestly, CAA is the only agency I would have left for,” said Luckman, “but the opportunity to create and build something new has always been a prime motivator for me. To build something, you need a good platform as a foundation. … Even from the outside, I could see they had the right balance of substance and smarts. Now that I’m inside, I can tell you that CAA is a hard-charging, hardworking place, but they are also not afraid to have fun.”

Fun, so far, has encompassed bringing onboard corporate consulting clients including huge sports spenders like Emirates Airline and JPMorgan Chase, two of the most competitive sports agency reviews of the year.

That’s more than just Lucky, right?

“Lucky’s really creative, he’s a great counselor and he’s really cool under pressure,” said Steve Pamon, who heads sports and entertainment marketing at JPMorgan Chase. “Everyone working in sports has connections; Lucky has relationships, and that’s what makes things happen.”

Luck is the residue of design, and Luckman’s path to the Forty Under 40 Hall of Fame began in Australia, where he started his career in sports working for a fledgling baseball team in Melbourne. The importance of teamwork was something Luckman learned over a decade working on the American Express account at Momentum, a period during which he was Tiger Woods’ liaison with the payment card brand. As the sports agency business grew and matured, Luckman has grown with it. While CAA Sports has a powerful sales arm, Luckman insists his client recommendations remain independent.

Further, the agency business has certainly changed over the years. Luckman says any success at CAA has been because he has changed as the business has.

“This all used to be about sponsorship only. Everyone involved has gotten more sophisticated,” he said. “You’ve got all the new media and technology that every client is looking for. It’s just about finding ways to use passion points like film, music and sports as ways to connect targeted consumers, whether that is through sponsorship or not. 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 and connect to consumers.”

Luckman becomes the second member of his clan to receive Hall of Fame honors. Sid Luckman, Greg’s great-uncle, who won four NFL championships with the Chicago Bears, is a Hall of Fame NFL quarterback.

Even as technology becomes increasingly important, Luckman never forgets that the sports agency business is about touch. People matter. Along with experience and contacts, personal skills are still paramount.

“Lucky is sound with his advice and really consistent as a person, which I believe has a lot to do with his success,” said JPMorgan Chase’s Pamon. “I’ve been with him in situations where we are around the most powerful names in sports, and I’ve been with him next to a bunch of tailgaters in parking lots, and he’s the same guy.”

— Terry Lefton



Age: 39
TITLE: Global head of consulting
COMPANY: CAA Sports
EDUCATION: B.A., psychology, Tulane University
FAMILY: Wife, Beth; daughters Charley (6) and Casey (2)
CAREER: Started career with Melbourne (Australia) Reds baseball team; managing director of Momentum New York (joined company in 1997 as account executive on AmEx); hired by WPP to create GroupM ESP in 2007; hired as head of CAA Sports Consulting in September 2011
PRIOR FORTY UNDER 40 SELECTIONS: 2009, 2011
* Hall of Fame distinction is for three-time winners

HOW DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?: Gym at 5 a.m., family breakfast at 7 a.m., office by 8 a.m.
BEST BUSINESS ADVICE RECEIVED: “Chance favors the prepared mind.” — Louis Pasteur
WORST ADVICE RECEIVED: Think me before we.
IPOD PLAYLIST: New Orleans funk, “Rocky” soundtrack
FAVORITE IPAD APP: Time Warner Cable TV app
PERSONALITY, IN A TWEET: Constantly challenging our team, myself to take it to the next level #nextlevelchallenge
FARTHEST TRAVELED FROM U.S.: Australia
GUILTY PLEASURE: New Orleans
FANTASY JOB: Director, Brant Lake Camp (owned by three generations of my family)
FAVORITE MOVIE LINE: “There’s one thing I want you to do for me: Win. Win.” (“Rocky II”)
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