Grupo GCI may share its name with the international WPP-owned agency that was integrated three years ago into sister firm Cohn & Wolfe, but is actually an independent firm. Founded in 1994, when the Portuguese PR business was “in the prehistoric age” in the words of entrepreneur José Manuel Costa, GCI has been a pioneer in the marketing public relations business in Portugal, celebrated for its innovation and creativity. Today, it continues that tradition as an affiliate of Edelman, having enthusiastically adopted international public relations giant’s “public engagement” philosophy and introduced it to its domestic market.
GCI works across multiple practice areas, including corporate affairs, public affairs, issues and crisis management, financial and investor relations, CSR and sustainability, healthcare, food and nutrition, change and employee engagement, and digital. The unifying approach involves an emphasis on stakeholder engagement and trust: GCI partnered on Edelman’s Trust Barmoter research in Portugal last year, examining changing levels of trust in corporate, government and media.
Economic activity in Portugal stalled as a result of the global economic crisis, but GCI took advantage of the lull to focus on internal initiatives, from a restructuring of practice areas to the introduction of a new brand to an investment in thought leadership. There was some new business, from Fnac, Puma, Lilly, Merck Serono, Health Cluster Portugal, Sonae Indústria and Sonae SGPS, and more, and the firm continues to work domestically for Delta, Sumol+Compal, Banco Espírito Santo, Carris and Dyrup and internationally for Johnson & Johnson, Lego, Mars Portugal, Starbucks, BP, Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb, Lilly Portugal, Novartis, and Sanofi Pasteur MSD.
Interesting work included a sustainability project for Lisbon public transportation client Carris, creating a “Menos um Carro” (One Less Car) movement focused on creating a more sustainable capital city. The firm was also recognized in the corporate responsibility category of the 2010 Portuguese Communications Effectiveness Awards for its “Tempo Para Dar” (Time To Give) project for Delta Cafes.
In addition to working on international assignments alongside Edelman, GCI launched its own operation in Angola last year, and has developed campaigns for other Portuguese-speaking markets including Brazil.