Overview of the 'Show of Progress' convention organised by Massey-Ferguson for its dealers. The event was held in February 1960 at Melbourne and featured a theatre performance, fashion parade, music performances and product demonstrations and parade.
By the late 1950s, the Sunshine Harvester Works was taken over by the Canadian firm Massey-Ferguson. In March 1958, the company's name was officially changed to Massey-Ferguson (Australia) Limited.
Over the next few years, Massey-Ferguson embarked on re-branding its products and establishing a strong relationship with Australian farmers. Massey-Ferguson singled out dealers as being an important link between the company and Australian farmers. The firm emphasised the importance of dealers in promoting Massey-Ferguson products and building farmers' confidence in the new brand.
In February 1960, Massey-Ferguson held the 'Show of Progress' convention in Melbourne to strengthen the relationship between the company and its dealers. Dealers were encouraged to attend the event to become familiar with Massey-Ferguson products, policy and personnel.
Billed as a 'three-day promotional extravaganza', the event was attended by 1000 Massey-Ferguson senior staff, dealers and their wives from around the country. The convention began on the evening of February 12 with cocktails and a buffet dinner held at five city hotels.
The following day, guests were entertained by a theatre performance at St Kilda's Palais. The play provided a colourful dramatisation of Massey-Ferguson's history and the important role of dealers in the firm's marketing campaign. It ended with the introduction of two new tractors to the Massey-Ferguson line, the MF 88 and MF 85. Produced by Hector Crawford, the production featured noted television actors Carl Bleazby and Syd Conabere, as well as horse racing broadcaster Bill Collins. Music was provided by the Horrie Dargie Quintet, Glenda Raymond and Desmond Lane.
Following the performance, female guests attended lunch and a fashion parade held at the Chevron Hotel while their husbands toured the Sunshine factory. Guests also saw a performance of 'My Fair Lady' at Her Majesty's Theatre.
The convention included the 'Pageant of Products' held at Melton. Massey-Ferguson tractors, headers, balers and drills were paraded to 1,000 guests in attendance. The spectacular event featured banners, the Sunshine City Brass Band, the Sunshine Marching Girls troupe and even commentators. The stars of the show were the company's new line of tractors - the MF 35, MF 88 and MF 85 - which were launched during the parade. The company highlighted the tractors' efficiency, power and versatility. The pageant ended with product demonstrations.
Massey-Ferguson hailed the gathering as a success, describing it as 'an unforgettable weekend' and 'the biggest convention in the history of the Australian farm industry'.
- Sunshine Review 1958, 'Our New Company Name is Massey Ferguson (Australia) Limited', vol. 2, no. 16, p.1.
- Massey-Ferguson Review 1960, ''Show of Progress' on Today', 12 Feb 1960, p.1.
- Massey-Ferguson Review 1960, 'New Tractors Introduced at Great MF Show', 'MF88 is Rugged' and 'MF85 is Big and Versatile', vol. 2, no. 32, p.2.
- Massey-Ferguson Review 1960, 'Show of Progress', vol. 2, no. 32, p.6-7.