Professor Bobby Duffy at the AMSR Summer Event 2022

Judith Staig reports from the AMSR’s Summer Event, held on 26th May 2022:

To be part of the audience for the AMSR summer event that took place on 26th May, 2022, was to ride a rollercoaster of emotions from pride and amazement through alarm and foreboding to frustration and determination.

The AMSR President, Denise Lievesley, opened by lauding the Archive and the team of volunteers for the work that has been done to create and grow the archive. She said “data is one of the only things that grows in value the more it is used.”

The first guest speaker, Professor Bobby Duffy, Director of the Policy Institute, King’s College London wowed the audience with evidence of how much the context of the past matters when you are trying to understand the present. The phenomenon of ‘rosy retrospection’ means we all tend to romanticise the past and think things are getting worse. But Duffy showed some amazing statistics that highlight how much more open, accepting and humane we have become in our attitudes towards issues such as homosexuality, capital punishment and euthanasia, over the last 30 years. Despite this, some things really are getting worse: he presented Ipsos MORI data that shows that whereas in 1989 36% thought that politicians are good people, only 15% thought so in 2019.

His message was clear: the Archive serves a vital role not just in preserving the heritage of our industry but also in bringing much-needed perspective to our analysis of the present and our attempts to plan for and predict the future.

Kelly Beaver, Chief Executive, IPSOS UK & Ireland, followed Duffy with a pre-recorded presentation reinforcing his message about the importance of the work the Archive is doing, and stating her commitment to continue to provide support. But she also alarmed the audience with her analysis of the challenges facing the Archive in a digital-first world: when people interact with each other, as well as with brands and other entities, digitally and over multiple platforms, how do we start to archive and extract future value from the data that this interaction produces?

Phyllis Macfarlane, Head of AMSR Collections, picked up the baton from Beaver and looked to the future of the Archive. She lamented an upcoming ‘small dark age’ – the period from the early 2000’s onward, during which many agencies migrated to digital production and storage of projects that have now been deleted or lost in the cloud. But she then raised spirits by setting out the plans that are in place to increase usage and to get more contributions from the industry; these came across as practical, actionable and inspiring.

Patrick Barwise, AMSR Chair, closed the event and, after all of this excitement and emotion, it’s not surprising that many of the audience found they needed to stick around for a glass of wine and a chat with friends and supporters of the AMSR, old and new. Canapés were sampled, the fabulous roof terrace at Bush House was explored, AMSR books were sold and contacts were made. And then it was all over for another year. Time to stagger off the emotional rollercoaster and make one’s way home, full of goodwill and resolve to continue volunteering for, contributing to and supporting this important and deserving charity.

Contributed by Judith Staig
Date posted: 6th June 2022


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