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How Cisco Is Leaving a Lasting Impact On the Brazilian Community

A Rio community center benefited from substantial upgrades when Cisco chose to use it as an invitation-only hospitality venue during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

By Mitra Sorrells September 15, 2016, 7:15 AM EDT

As part of the building renovations, Cisco created a new balcony at the venue, which provided a beautiful setting for guests to snap photos while holding one of the official Olympic torches that had been carried by one of Cisco’s Brazilian executives.

Photo: Courtesy of George P. Johnson Experience Marketing

As a sponsor of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Cisco has provided equipment and infrastructure to manage wireless communications, network security, broadcasting, and more for the venues, athletes, media, and guests. The company is also using the opportunity to strengthen relationships with customers, prospects, and partners, both from around the world and within Brazil. To do that, Cisco’s experience marketing agency, George P. Johnson, created Casa Cisco, a branded, invitation-only venue where company executives have been hosting thousands of guests since the 2016 Summer Olympic Games began in early August and continuing through the close of the Paralympic Games on Sunday. 

“There are many ways brands activate their Olympic sponsorship and partnership,“ said David Rich, senior vice president of client services for G.P.J. “Live interaction is one of the most beneficial things companies can do because it delivers on this idea of igniting or deepening relationships by putting people in an inspirational setting that strikes the right balance between hospitality and brand message.”

Rich and his team began scouting venues more than two years ago, looking for a location that had some history and that provided an iconic Rio setting. They found just what they were looking for in a longstanding community center owned by the Brazilian military that overlooks the water and offers clear views of Sugarloaf Mountain, a symbol of the city. The facility also provided an additional opportunity aligned with Cisco’s goals for corporate social responsibility: It needed substantial renovations to meet Cisco’s needs. So, for more than two years, G.P.J. has been leading work to enhance the structure in ways that will continue to benefit the local community once Casa Cisco ends on Sunday.

In addition to installing the latest Cisco Wi-Fi technology, the company also added new air conditioning, replaced broken floor tiles, installed a new roof in one section—which also created a new balcony above it—and added four lifts that make the building accessible for people with disabilities. “It wouldn’t have been congruent to host guests during the running of the Paralympic Games if guests with disabilities themselves couldn’t be part of the experience,” Rich said.

The building remained open to the community as renovations took place until mid-July. That’s when Cisco took full possession to begin installing various brand experience elements, including a timeline on the wall outlining achievements from the company’s more than 20 years of work in Brazil. With every design decision, from furniture to food to decor, Rich says that they were focused on melding Cisco corporate culture with local Rio and Brazilian culture. “That’s important because if you are wanting to convey the idea that Cisco is of Brazil, you can’t come in and create a venue that solely comes from corporate headquarters. Because then you are inviting people into a building that could be anywhere in the planet,” he said.

The renovations added natural wood both inside and outside and colorful artwork, both elements of Brazilian design. A variety of local vendors were involved, including a Brazilian mural artist who worked on site for 40 days painting ribbons of artwork on the walls.

To educate guests about Cisco's work around Brazil, G.P.J. set up interactive displays, virtual-reality experiences, and real-time data feeds throughout Casa Cisco.

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