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Our house organs

07 April 2023

Like any self-respecting large company, just after it was first incorporated Eni decided to provide itself with an internal communication tool: "the house organ", following other large Italian companies that had launched a publication intended for employees some years earlier. Publications of very different kinds, based on choices linked to the vision the company had in organisation and personnel relationship terms. In 1953 Finsider had already released its elegant, cultured "Civiltà delle macchine" with Leonardo Sinisgalli running it. Whereas, in the mid-thirties Olivetti of Adriano Olivetti was already publishing "Tecnica e organizzazione" an important organisation sociology organ. In 1955 Eni released a magazine with an unusual name: "Il Gatto selvatico". It was run by an intellectual like Attilio Bertolucci who brought all his culture to the house organ pages: directly, through beautiful lessons on the history of art signed personally by him, and indirectly, getting his "friends" (Carlo Emilio Gadda, Natalia Ginzburg, Anna Banti, Giuseppe Dessì) to contribute. A cultured house organ, still full of information. On entering his employees' homes, Enrico Mattei wanted it to create curiosity and reach everyone. The underlying idea was to help improve people, expanding their personal knowledge, and, more generally, boosting the growth of the Italian society as a whole.

Attilio Bertolucci brought all his culture to the house organ pages

The other house organs

The magazine, born with Mattei, closed shortly after he died. When Attilio Bertolucci left, a few months after the death of Mattei, there was a lack of that vision that had turned this magazine into one of the most successful house organ experiences. In the following years, between 1968 and 1972, a new magazine tried to fill the gap left by the "Gatto Selvatico". The name, just "Eni", showed there was no great desire to create a project like the "Gatto Selvatico". "Eni" was essentially there just to talk about the company, while waiting for a new important house organ to appear in Eni. The first issue of Ecos appeared in 1972 and was to have a long, lucky life. It was to be published continually until 2002, hosting articles by prestigious names (such as Primo Levi), illustrations assigned to Carla Accardi and Emilio Tadini and in-depth articles linked to the company's development, but also the knowledge of countries and continents. In general, Ecos studied the world, innovation and complexity. It was distributed to all company personnel, and to opinion leaders from the world of culture and the economy, in Italy and abroad. For that reason it came out double-paged, text in English and Italian. Operationally, other publications accompanied and described the work of many colleagues. For petrol pump managers, "Buon lavoro amici!" came out in the Fifties, followed years later by "Professione gestore" between 1982 and 2007. Then those selling gas bottles had "Il fuoco", published between 1958 and 1970. Less technical and once again open to articles that were not necessarily connected to business, you have the magazine Synchron, curated and edited by Agip Petroli. A great production, intercepting several curious facts and, above all, working on company identity continuously searching for the value of teams.

In the video below: Bernardo Bertolucci tells of his meeting with Enrico Mattei and of the direction of the magazine "Il Gatto Selvatico" of his father, Attilio Bertolucci.

"Eni" was essentially there just to talk about the company,

After the "Gatto". Ecos and Brand Journalism

The heir to the Gatto Selvatico, the result of a decade of development, the new Ecos company magazine already shows a strong awareness of its role in its early years. As early as 1976, it carried out surveys to understand and gauge its role in terms of information (1976, photo 1). From the beginning of the 1980s, it played a role in the activities of the national and international corporate press associations in a more significant way, in the decade in which the sector grew in volume and was the subject of public attention. The debate shifted from the role of information to that of becoming a link between business and society, and awareness of the centrality of brand communication was consolidated (1985-1986, photos 2-3). In the 1990s, the debate matured, focusing on the nature and role of brand journalism professionals (1993, photo 4).

1976/32-34, p.68. A survey carried out among the readers of Ecos also included a more general reflection on corporate magazines in Italy. In addition to the centrality of information for employees on group events and activities, there was a growing need for more internal communication on the dynamics and critical issues at work, in line with the national history of the decade. The success of the typographic layout with large images, Ecos' strong point, was also confirmed, underlining the concept with a series of high-impact covers.

1985/147-149, p.86. Ecos participated in the 35th conference of the Corporate Press Association - ASAI, highlighting the growing importance of the sector. Many corporate magazines took on an external audience, putting themselves forward, not only in their own informative role, but also as a link between the company and local realities, and between the company and the national socio-economic fabric.

1986/160-161, p.101. n the mid-1980s, the generalist press also signalled the consolidation of the sector: not only was brand journalism growing at a fast pace, but it was also recognised as the benchmark for business vision in Italy. The word 'culture' appeared and Ecos, which organised the annual ASAI conference, published an interview with the Director General of Information, Publishing and Literary Property at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers on the role of the corporate press and the 'case' of the specialised information it provides.

1993/002, p.72. In the 1990s, the decade of communication, the focus shifted further, from the issues and roles of the press to brand journalism itself, a profession which was still trying to define itself in the broader field of journalism. Ecos published a state of the art publication which also included an interview with the president of the European Federation of Business Magazines, focusing on the 'craft of communication' and proposed, among other things, a reflection on the awareness of the corporate communicator.

Ecos shows a strong awareness of its role in its early years