Cause Marketing Brilliance: @HardlyNormal Receives GMC Terrain at SOBCon

In a brilliant moment of guerilla cause marketing, GMC gave road warrior and homeless advocate Mark Horvath a brand new Terrain today at SOBCon. SOBCon regularly attracts 150 of the world best professional bloggers. The moment created an immediate splash on major social networks.

Adrants publisher Steve Hall was at SOBcon and had this to say about the marketing moment, “We all cringe when a brand gets in front of a crowd at a conference even though we know it’s the brand’s money that helps make the even possible. And we especially dislike when a brand turns their presence at a conference into a commercial. But that wasn’t the case with this giveaway. GMC handled it well and offered support for a good cause. I think it was very nicely handled.”

The cause — InvisiblePeople — is a natural tie for GMC. Friend Mark Horvath drives around the country every year helping individual homeless citizens along the journey. His efforts seek to highlight the many and often shocking examples of homelessness through personal stories, and to help the individuals with their trials (see case study).

“I often use the term ‘wrecked’ when things mess with my heart either good or bad,” said Mark Horvath, “What just happened here has me wrecked beyond words. The GMC truck and free gas is wonderful, but it’s the relationships, and that people believe in me it what has me so overwhelmed. I am so very grateful.”

GMC’s effort took advantage of several key factors; the high concentration of influential voices at the conference, an open opportunity with the cause (Ford sponsored InvisiblePeople’s U.S. cross country trip in 2009), the selection of a cause that matches their business, and selecting a cause that has high visibility, at least online. The well planned move was a brilliant example of guerilla marketing, and working with a cause to help achieve its mission.

Kudos to Mark, GMC, and SOBCon Organizer Liz Strauss for making it happen.


  • Geoff – Well played move by GMC. I myself was in tears when they presented the car. Thinking about the courage and sweat that Marc puts in day in and day out fighting homelessness. For me the moment wasn’t about a great car, but about shining a light where it needs to be shined: On the cause, the mission and the man.

    The ultimate test for GMC will be to demonstrate their sincerity by making a long-term commitment to the cause. Anyone can start a 26.2-mile marathon, but not anyone can finish one, if you know what I mean…. ;-)

    • Yes, I agree. I think Mark has been through this before, too. Giving him the automobile outright is not a bad start.

  • I was lucky enough to be there to see the genuine emotion present. Truly a phenomenal example of elevating a cause, awareness and a brand in an authentic manner. Neat synchronicity in action.

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  • Nice job, GM. Kudos!

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  • As a former GM employee and Fan of Mark’s work, this made my heart smile. Great job.

  • “Kudos to Mark, GMC, and SOBCon Organizer Liz Strauss for making it happen.” YES!

    Geoff you have just introduced the world to the future and transformation of America’s business model. We are no longer marketing and advertising to make a profit. We’re stepping up to the plate and together with government taking action to resolve our social issues. Thanks to Mark Horvath and Kevin Ryan advocacy and solutions they provide for the homeless through the organizations they run, both my partner and I have been “recruited” to keep America’s youth out of trouble and off the streets.

    Yesterday, we changed our company name to Sainted Warriors. We tore everything down to refocus all of our efforts on our passion, skills and talents to raise awareness and funds in support of America’s homeless and runaway youth. We started our business from nothing. We don’t know anyone nor do we have financial support. We may not have paper money, but we have a wealth of experience in retail management, marketing, advertising, and social media with a great vision and passion to make a difference in a teenager’s life. If all we can do is help keep 5 teenagers out of trouble and off the streets, we would have succeeded beyond anything we would have expected.

    We’re in the process of adopting a shelter to give 10% of the profit we make from the sale of every shirt. We know we can just sell t-shirts and send anybody a check, but we want more. We want to be acknowledged and we want to be involved in order to be able to inspire others to join this amazing cause especially mothers. We’re launching our first shirt collection designed by Diane Park @dianeipark , a graphic design student from the university of Illinois who is donating her time, skills and talents to help empower the masses to help and join our cause.

    As an organization we believe that the true warriors, the heros are people like Mark Horvath, Kevin Ryan, Demi Moore, and Ashton Kutcher. People who are able to look at the worst of conditions a human being can experience such as homelessness and the sexual exploitation of children and be passionately inspired to help not just in words but also in action is the definition of a Sainted Warrior. Having a sainted concern for their fellow man is what makes the greatest leaders warriors. Twitter is where these warriors are being noticed, mentored, and lead to greatness.

    None of this would have happened for us if it weren’t for Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress. We have been able to get this far because Twitter provided a platform where we could explore, experience and choose our passion by connecting with like minded people. If you want to develop yourself and your business, you have to be on Twitter. And if you want to be known for being an organization who cares not just about profit but about making a difference, you want to be promoted by and at Twitter. Everyone who works for us must have a Twitter account and tweet information and thoughts that make a difference in our area of work. They are also required to follow organizations and individuals that inspire them.

    The other day I saw 3 images on the Twitter home page and I thought, imagine having our Sainted Warriors logo on that page so that when people click on it they’re taken to our website or an out of this world live event or promotion where they can interact, shop, and donate, a real-time fundraiser with real people on the other side. Incredible opportunity. I then thought of where we are as a new start up and the next thought followed “Maybe someday. Never say never. You never know.”

    Thank you,

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