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Family Tradition: Tom Luckie Earns Silver Medal Award From American Advertising Foundation

‘It’s a nice honor. Twenty-five years ago to the day (March 1), my brother, who’s deceased, was given this award and that’s what makes it special. My dad also received it …’ Tom Luckie

By Rubin E. Grant

Tom Luckie considers himself, well, lucky. Or, to use his word, “fortunate.”

That’s how the Luckie & Co. chairman described being selected earlier this month as the recipient of the prestigious Silver Medal Award from AAF Birmingham, the local chapter of the American Advertising Foundation. 

AAF Birmingham’s Silver Medal Award recognizes ad professionals for their work to further industry standards and foster creative excellence and social responsibility. It’s one of the highest honors presented by the organization and is known as the nonprofit’s lifetime achievement award.

“I guess they couldn’t find anybody else,” Luckie quipped.

“It means that the advertising business has been good to me and my family,” he added, striking a more serious tone. “It’s not me, but our company. This is our 71st year in business and I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great people who do a lot of the heavy lifting. I’m getting a little long in the tooth, but I am surrounded by a lot of bright people. A lot of people are behind this and I just happened to be the guy they honored.

“It’s a nice honor. Twenty-five years ago to the day (March 1), my brother, who’s deceased, was given this award and that’s what makes it special. My dad also received it and so have several others in our company.”

Established in 1959, AAF’s Silver Medal Award Program is presented annually to AAF members in local communities across the United States. The organization presented the Silver Medal Award to Luckie’s father, Robert “Ace” Luckie, in 1963, and to his brother, Robert Luckie III, in 1999. Five other executives from the agency have earned the award in the firm’s history.

“Tom’s positive and decades-long impact on Birmingham – not just the ad community – is measured in the hundreds of professional careers he’s nurtured, the countless clients he’s counseled and dozens of nonprofit organizations he’s supported,” said John Gardner, president & CEO of Luckie. “He leads with integrity and honesty and has for his entire career.

On behalf of all Luckie team members, I am so proud to congratulate Tommy on this well-deserved honor.”

Luckie, founded in 1953 by Ace Luckie, celebrated its 70th year in business in 2023. Over the decades, the company has worked with companies in health care, travel and tourism, consumer packaged goods and financial services, including Regions Bank, RaceTrac, Jack’s Family Restaurants, Alabama Tourism and the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, Alabama Power, GlaxoSmithKline, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and Panama City Beach.

Today, Luckie & Co. is among Birmingham’s top five advertising agencies and Atlanta’s top 10 as ranked by the Birmingham Business Journal and the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Technology Influence

Tom Luckie has a marketing degree from Auburn University and an MBA from Samford University. In 1977, he joined the family business. 

His 47-year ad agency career has taken him through countless changes in the global advertising industry and in Birmingham business. After he was named CEO in 2010, he helped lead the company’s evolution from a traditional ad agency to a data-centric marketing shop, earning national attention and awards for its integrated use of data to inform strategy in advertising, PR, social media and more. In 2022 he was named chairman.

“The biggest change in the industry is 100 percent technology, the mobile phone, digital media and social media,” Luckie said. “If you go back to, say 1975, there were three people in New York making decisions about what you watched and when you watched. But now if you want to watch something, you can just watch it.

“But even with all the technology and the mobile phone, you still need great people with great ideas who know how to leverage things across different platforms,” Luckie continued. “What worked five years ago might not be relevant now, so you still have to come up with great ideas and communicate them with the consumer because there are a lot of likes and dislikes and tastes out there. 

“You have to find the right content in the right context. You still have to have the ability to keep the attention of the consumer. Sometimes humor works, and sometimes you have to communicate straightforward with people.”

In his life outside the company, Luckie is an active member of multiple groups in the Birmingham community and spends time with his family.

Even so, Luckie isn’t planning on retiring any time soon.

“I still enjoy working,” he said. “I’ve already given up a lot of things I don’t like to do, but we’ve got some great people and smart people, so I still enjoy coming in and being around the young folks.” 

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