Mark Wahlberg enters supplements market

September, 28, 2012
9/28/12
11:48
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Mark WahlbergParamount Pictures Mark Wahlberg, who has long been associated with fitness, starred as Micky Ward in "The Fighter."
If Mark Wahlberg is going to be successful in the supplement business, he'll have to score customers who don't even know they're buying his stuff.

[+] EnlargeGNC
Courtesy of GNC"Marked" products will be sold at GNC, and the company is planning on selling it through other major retailers.
That's because the actor's new line he built in partnership with GNC doesn't show any specific tie to Wahlberg other than the name of the product, Marked.

It's a long way from the traditional endorsement model: make a product and throw a celebrity's image on it. But Wahlberg doesn't want it that way.

"Endorsing products is not what I do," he said. "Building great products is what I want to do."

It's not that Wahlberg's name doesn't matter at all. The company is still using Wahlberg in signage, advertising and website content, and for good reason.

When GNC thought about an alliance with the 41-year-old Wahlberg, who played the role of a fit athlete in both "Invincible" and "The Fighter," it checked out how he scored among the general population.

"He was off the charts," GNC CEO Joe Fortunato said. "His score was the highest of any celebrity we looked at, and he was truly connected to the health and wellness space."

As GNC has shifted its strategy to selling more products that it makes to boost margins, Wahlberg's involvement is a welcome addition.

"I've been exercising and eating right for a long time," Wahlberg said. "I've taken a lot of supplements. Half the time I didn't even know the crap I was taking."

Wahlberg said he has since educated himself, and part of his deal with GNC was allowing him access to the best products and formulas.

Marked will start with seven products, including a whey protein and a vitamin pack.

Unlike some other GNC-made products, Marked will not be exclusive to its stores, with the company planning to offer it in major food and drug stores and mass retailers.

Whether it will be a success depends on whether people are willing to sample the brand at a premium price point.

The 32-ounce whey protein tub costs $40, when you can get a cheap brand for $20. Marked protein bars cost about $24 for eight. If you want to buy cheaper protein bars, you can get 12 bars for that price.

For his part, Wahlberg is intent on making his line a success.

Said Wahlberg: "I'm willing to put in the work. I have no problem going door-to-door."

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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