Through the years, the meetings and conferences held by ARF have grown in importance, both to the research industry and to ARF. Its various gatherings now account for about half of ARF's annual revenues.
Surprisingly, ARF was almost two decades old before it inaugurated an annual meeting. In 1955, it held a half-day conference at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York with 292 people in attendance.
The annual meeting became an important event for ARF, both in terms of valuable public exposure in its most important market-New York-and a contribution to association revenues. In 1973, the event was extended to a two-day affair, with research companies giving presentations on the second day.
In addition to the annual meeting, ARF now hosts eight to 10 Key Issues workshops a year. These were started in 1981, shortly after Michael Maples became president of ARF. The initial workshop centered on copy research validation. ARF also sponsors special symposiums as needed to wrestle with current issues-most recently, on interactive media.
Next month's annual conference carries the theme, "The 21st century is now. Are you ready?" The job of conference chairman is usually rotated among the various disciplines of ARF members, but this year the job is split between Bruce Meyers, exec VP-director of strategy and business development, BBDO Worldwide, and Larry Mock, manager-market research worldwide, Procter & Gamble Co. ARF has added a third day for this anniversary conference, which will be keynoted by John Smale, chairman of General Motors Corp. and former chairman of P&G.
As an adjunct to the conference, 180 exhibitors will set up shop at the Research Expo, showcasing their research products and services.