Guest Author: Samantha Bradbeer
Historian, Hallmark Cards, Inc.
The annual Section on Business Archives – International Council on Archives conference was held at The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, GA from April 5-6. Over 130 archivists from both ICA and SAA were in attendance. The theme of the meeting was “Sustainability.” Presenters discussed how to sustain an archive, how archives can contribute to sustainable business patterns and how archives can support brand growth.
The two-day conference consisted of two keynote presentations, fifteen presentations, a panel discussion, a tour of the Coca-Cola Archives and a reception at The World of Coca-Cola.
The conference began with two keynote presentations.
- Ursula Wynhoven, Chief Legal Officer / Chief, Governance & Social Sustainability at UN Global Compact discussed Agenda 2030 and how archivists, specifically business archivists, might be the missing or forgotten piece in sustainability. Archivists can become leaders in sustainability, Wynhoven said, by finding opportunities within their collections that can support their company and global sustainable development goals. Narratives and origin stories, as later heard from several presenters throughout the conference, can help businesses showcase how far they have come and where they are headed. Although each and every company may focus on different sustainable development goals, all business archivists can help their company operate with integrity and strengthen society.
- Michael Goltzman, VP of International Public Affairs – The Coca-Cola Company described how The Coca-Cola Company has enhanced personal well-being, built stronger communities and protected the environment while, in some cases, leveraging their archive to do so.
After several short breaks, four archivists presented their papers on sustainability within their archives and companies. A panel discussion followed.
- Cheryl Brown, Business Archives Surveying Officer – Business Archives Council for Scotland discussed the successes and lessons learned while developing exhibitions at a future visitor’s center for the Macallan, a single malt whiskey. The exhibitions at the visitor’s center, which will open next year, utilized narratives found within the underutilized archives. Over the course of this project, Brown has made the case that sustainability is an argument for initiating a corporate archives program. The program, if implemented, will ultimately provide brand education, support product development and protect intellectual property rights for the company.
- Henning Morgen, Group Historian – A.P. Moller-Maersk raised several key questions throughout his presentation, including how does your company fit in society, how do you balance human rights and company responsibilities, what role does an archivist serve as an employee and when do you provide access to private archives. The answer for each question depends on the company, but ultimately it comes down to protecting and fulfilling rights verses respecting human rights. Morgen discussed his own company’s priorities against the UN’s guiding principles. Morgen’s presentation clearly showed that every company and individual could make a difference in today’s world.
- James Sommerville, V.P. of Global Design – The Coca Cola Company discussed the inspiration behind his company’s “Taste the Feeling” ad campaign. The behind-the-scenes look at the campaign revealed that the marketing team was directly inspired by ads found in the archives. The campaign, described as “Norman Rockwell meets Instagram” – “Contemporary Nostalgia,” highlights how important brand focus and product focus is to The Coca-Cola Company. Sommerville’s presentation ultimately showcased how valuable and vital archives can be for their companies, especially in regards to remaining true to their brand and heritage.
- Eibhlin Colgan, Archive Manager – Guinness shared several examples of how the Guinness Archive was directly involved with current and future product development. For example, product development teams were able to share the story of brewers and the beers they created by leveraging the archive. Beer recipes and labels from over two hundred years ago inspired the launch of the Guinness West Indies Porter and Guinness Dublin Porter. The collaborative approach between the archive and product development teams allowed the product to remain historically accurate throughout every step of the process, from the creation to packaging to advertising. Cogan’s case study explained the potential value for sustaining an archive.
- Linda Edgerly, Director of Information & Archival Services – The Winthrop Group lead the panel discussion. Edgerly opened the floor to questions, comments and concerns regarding how archivists are and should be trained and mentored for the corporate world. This discussion provided several ideas on how to improve training and shed some light on current practices around the world. A summary of Edgerly’s findings will be shared through the SAA’s listserv in the near future.
The first day of the SBA ICA 2016 conference ended with a tour of the Coca-Cola Archives and a reception at The World of Coca-Cola.
- Over one hundred attendees and speakers had the opportunity to tour the Coca-Cola Archives. Unique objects in the collection included advertisements, hundreds of glass bottles, porcelain soda dispensers, promotional toys and the original Coca-Cola bottle design. The thirty-minute tour allowed attendees to better understand how the company leverages their archive.
- Attendees were later encouraged to visit The World of Coca-Cola for a self-guided tour and reception. All visitors to The World of Coca-Cola are able to see thousands of archival materials currently on display, sample hundreds of Coke products from around the world and take a picture with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear.
Eleven presentations were held on the second day of the conference. Presenters continued to discuss how archives can contribute to sustainable business patterns and how archives can support brand growth. Overall, the broad range of topics, from a diverse group of presenters, allowed attendees to better understand global practices and standards, gain exciting outlooks and ideas that they can apply to their own archive and, last but not least, become better acquainted with like-minded individuals.
Additional information about the conference and its presenters can be found on SBA ICA’s agenda. Archivists and students can learn more about business archives and related conferences by following the @BASarchivists Twitter handle.