TV Land Hopes to Gain World by Selling Its ‘Soul’

'The Soul Man' targets an overlooked demo

TV Land is looking to market the new Hot in Cleveland spin-off The Soul Man to a large but often overlooked demo: African-American Christians.

As most churches don’t accept paid advertising, the network and its marketing firm, Grace Hill Media, which specializes in reaching the religious, are finding other ways to promote Soul Man’s June 20 premiere at houses of worship.

Soul Man is tailored to appeal to its demo. Its main character is played by Cedric the Entertainer, who in real life is a devout Christian. The comic actor personalizes clips from the show for predominantly black megachurches in major markets—for example, a message to Greater Bethlehem Temple in Jackson, Miss., greets the church by name.

“A lot of the churches, especially in some of the urban markets, are huge,” said Kim Rosenblum, evp, marketing and creative for TV Land.

Grace Hill president Jonathan Bock thinks Soul Man is a good fit for the demo. “[Protestants} want to see nice people go through something hard, have a conversion experience and become nicer,” he said.

Bock has done this kind of thing before. Grace Hill promoted The Blind Side in churches by providing them with clips from the hit film and even sermon outlines that incorporated its content.

Dr. Calvin Sydnor, officer of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and editor of The Christian Recorder, said he’s pleased that the series portrays African-American ministers in a positive light. He added, “I’m sure there’ll be pastors who look at it and say, ‘Oh, man, this looks like a good presentation.’” 

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