Umberto Luchini

Patience, patience, and then, patience. The time will come, when all the sacrifices will make sense, and when the “why’s” will be explained. And it will all feel natural, and when the sentence “hard work comes easy” will say it all.


Umberto Luchini was former Chief Marketing Officer for Campari America. Appointed to the role in 2012, Luchini oversaw the entire U.S. portfolio of brands, as well as all aspects of the marketing mix in the country. Campari America’s brands include SKYY Vodka, Wild Turkey Bourbon, Appleton Estate Rum, Espolòn Tequila, Aperol, Frangelico, Cinzano and of course, the namesake Campari.

Luchini joined Campari America in 2006, starting as the manager for the Campari brand, which gives him a unique perspective into how the current bitter liqueur craze is sweeping across America. He was also instrumental in marketing efforts for other brands within the US portfolio, including SKYY Vodka’s new “West of Expected” marketing platform and the development and relaunch of Espolòn Tequila in the US.

Prior to joining Campari America, Luchini worked in the group marketing department of Campari America’s parent company Gruppo Campari in Milan. Luchini started his career in marketing with prestigious brands like Ferrari and Marlboro, where he managed the Formula One motorsport activities for nearly a decade. He also performed marketing activities for the 2000 Summer Olympics on behalf of ISL Marketing. Luchini is currently the co-founder of a craft vodka distillery in Eugene OR, called Wolf Spirit, and is in the phase of launching a new vodka brand – BLOOD x SWEAT x TEARS – across the country.

Where did the idea for Wolf Spirit come from?

Wolf Spirit Distillery aims to share the best of independent premium spirits. Wolf Spirit will be the first craft distillery to launch brands with a national foot print in the on and off premise.

Guided by instinct and fueled by passion, our team is driven to disrupt the industry with new ideas, innovative products and authentic stories.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Wake up early, earlier than logic dictates. Go out, push my body to the limits, whether it’s running, biking or swimming. Always, 365 days a year. Never miss a day without getting out and feel the body’s energy, it’s strength but also its limits. And then tackle the day with the same spirit. Out there visiting customers, talking to bartenders, negotiating with vendors and distributors. Travel is a crucial part of my role – 60%/70% of the time is spent around the country to understand what is happening out there, absorbing the cultures and observing the trends. And then a total cut off in the evening, with the phone shut down and no media around me. That moment in which I connect with myself, with my loved ones, and the self realization of how lucky I am.

How do you bring ideas to life?

We’re outsiders. Nonconformists. We don’t follow the rules of the spirits industry because we’re looking for a different way – our way. We do this out of a love for good booze and good times. We push ourselves, to push the boundaries. By experimenting, and by not being afraid to fail. It’s not a science, it’s an art. And art is about following your instincts, not the crowd.

It’s not ever perfect. And that’s the perfect part.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The rise of the “maker movement”. The maker movement is a social movement with an artisan spirit, and these new independent workers are transforming the way we live. Life for them is about fulfillment. A revolution is sweeping America. On its front lines are people fed up with unfulfilling jobs, dysfunctional workplaces, and dead-end careers. Today’s new economic icon: the free agent-men and women who are working for themselves. 21st-century pioneers are creating lives with more meaning, and often more money.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Physical exercise, always, every day of the year, with no excuses to skip. Releases the positive energies of your body that fuel the creativity and optimism during the day, that help in getting out there and make a difference.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Patience, patience, and then, patience. The time will come, when all the sacrifices will make sense, and when the “why’s” will be explained. And it will all feel natural, and when the sentence “hard work comes easy” will say it all.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

The strength of your body and your minds has no limits. I never thought I could do a triathlon, let alone 9 ironman. I never thought I could break the 3 hr time in a marathon, let alone doing it 3 times and at 38 y.o. I never thought I could run 50 miles, let alone doing it under 8 hours. And the next accomplishment is right around the corner. Always.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Prioritize and focus. Constantly evaluating whether a task can be done better, faster, or does it need to be done at all ? And then stay focused in execution, limiting the distractions to the minimum. Meetings should be short, focused and with a single objective, when possible. If you want to socialize, go to a bar and have a drink of our vodka – don’t come to meeting and waste everybody’s time.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Identify the “white space”. That little empty space that competitors haven’t seen, and consumers don’t know, yet, that they’re craving for. It’s not about satisfying consumer needs, but rather creating new ones. That will distinguish you from anyone else, and give you an edge vs. the competition, regardless of its size and budgets !

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Underestimating the power of tactics. The best executed strategy will never overcome the absence of well planned out tactical execution. I didn’t put enough attention, emphasis and resources to execution, and that hit me back with little to no sales of what is a phenomenal product and brand. By being humble, acknowledging the misstep, and partnering with competent specialist in execution and tactics, the company was saved and the brand is now coming to life.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Reduce social media to the minimum and let “old style” PR do a lot of the leg work in getting the right visibility and messaging out there.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Branded leather jackets. Not only they look very very cool, but they acted as incentive for the distributor, the retailer and the final consumer. Furthermore, totally aligned with the brand messaging. A visibility tool that is worth spending money for it, since your consumer is wearing it around.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Google analytics – just because there is limited choice out there and google searches are still a barometer of what is happening, in general and on your brand.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. This book is the antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson challenges that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. So so true.

What is your favorite quote?

“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”. Steve Jobs.

Key Learnings:

That my energy is fueled by:

  • The next challenge, by the next brand not created yet, by the next opportunity of seducing a different consumer.
  • I’m privileged as I don’t feel I’m working, but rather creating and making things happen.
  • The right balance between body and mind efforts is crucial for feeling accomplished.