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Mark Wahlberg on His New AT&T Campaign and Why He Doesn’t Watch Netflix

Variety logo Variety 5/2/2017 Erin Nyren
© Provided by Variety

Breaking from his ordinary embargo on appearing in commercials, Mark Wahlberg has chosen to appear in a new ad campaign from AT&T to promote its new HBO-inclusive DirecTV, wireless, and internet package.

The four released spots feature Wahlberg bringing the seven terms of the consumer’s revamped terms and conditions to life. All the terms are essentially reiterations of the AT&T slogan that consumers should get what they want, when they want it, including unlimited data.

Brad Bentley, executive vice president of marketing for AT&T Entertainment Group, noted that the campaign marks a shift for AT&T from a telecommunications giant to a media powerhouse, especially with the acquisition of Time Warner on the horizon. Bentley said that this it the first of many innovations they expect to roll out to create more consumer value post-Time Warner.

For the first time, AT&T designed the campaign to market all three of its services at once, rather than each individual service separately. He said the company was looking for a no-nonsense spokesperson who fit the image of giving straightforward service to the consumer, which is how they landed on Wahlberg as the best actor for the job.

“Mark really connects with consumers on their behalf and it’s incredibly authentic,” Bentley said.

Wahlberg became involved in the project after meeting with Bentley. He said AT&T’s message behind the service was what drew him to the campaign.

“I really liked the way they were talking about giving consumers entertainment,” Wahlberg said. “I’m not really a tech guy, but I’ve got four small kids, and they’ve got iPads, iPhones, and all these things and I’m now having to start to figure it out and it’s just made it easier for me to access what I want and what I need.”

With the landscape of media consumption trending ever more towards on-the-go, device-controlled usage, concerns have arisen that movie theaters might be outpaced by the online streaming presence. Wahlberg said that although online streaming has certainly risen, he thinks a middle ground can be found.

“Hopefully we can have that nice balance of people wanting to go to the theater and have that experience of sitting down in a theater, laughing next to somebody, crying next to somebody and sharing that, but also wanting to be able to access what you want when you want,” he said.

Peter Berg, who produced Wahlberg’s 2013 film “Lone Survivor,” was brought on to direct the spots, and Wahlberg said that made the process all the better.

“I have fun making Transformers, but that’s five long months of Michael Bay trying to blow you up. With this, Pete and I, we’ve worked together well for a long time…and I can trust him, so this is a much more pleasant experience.”

One aspect of the service that AT&T is pushing is its ability to give users access to all the content and channels they want. Wahlberg, however, sticks to a few key channels.

“I can only watch the shows that I’m involved in…Anything on HBO, or anything with USA or A&E. But really, I’m so loyal to the people that I work with, and it’s frustrating because a lot of people tell me about shows on Netflix…or Amazon that are so cool, but you know I’m not about to watch the competitors right now.”

The spots also feature Tracy Morgan, Rob Corddry, and James Marsden in character as Teddy Flood, as well as an homage to the internet meme known as Dramatic Look featuring a prairie dog — not an otter, as some media outlets reported. According to Bentley, the ten spots starring Wahlberg will roll out over the next two to three months.

Watch one of the spots above.

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