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Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

Pierre van Heerden has received the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific’s most prestigious communication award for his management of the Marmite shortage.

Pierre built interest in the re-release by making the date a national secret, hand-delivering the spread to members of parliament and involving a former captain of the country’s rugby union team, the All Blacks.

Mr Heerden travelled from New Zealand where he is general manager to accept the inaugural John Banks Award at the first Adventist Communicators Awards, held as part of the Manifest Creative Arts Festival.

Sanitarium ceased producing the yeast spread after the 2011 earthquake forced the closure of its Christchurch factory. The so-called “Marmaggedon” received international coverage. Pierre built interest in the re-release by making the date a national secret, hand-delivering the spread to members of parliament and involving a former captain of the country’s rugby union team, the All Blacks. The secret to his success: building relationships. “People are often afraid to talk to those in high positions but they are just people,” said Pierre during his speech.
 

Pierre van Heerden gave away jars of Marmite during the Adventist Communicators Award.


Before the presentation, host James Standish spoke of John’s contribution to communication over a career that saw the ordained minister work at most levels of the denomination’s organisational structure. “John is not only a great friend, but he is a prime example of professionalism,” said James, the director of communication for the church in the South Pacific.

Dr Robert Wolfgramm’s keynote “Doing your duty (even if duty does you)” was part biography, part appeal as the editor-in-chief of the Fiji Daily Post emphasised the importance of freedom of expression, even under duress and even within the church.

Sanitarium also won an award (Best communications or public relations campaign or project) for its part in coordinating Is a vegetarian diet adequate, a supplement published in the Medical Journal of Australia in June last year.

ADRA Australia won awards for best publication (for Our Stories: Their Story) and for best website.

Other winners included Adventist Media Network West (Best broadcast) for its documentary, “Renewing the Adventist Movement in Western Australia,” the church’s Vanuatu Mission (Best news report) for its video Clean and Safe Water to Atchin, and Adventist Media Network (Best video) for episodes of the Complete Health Improvement Program.