Slebs go digging for Black Gold, empty Marmite jars become novel charity aid

Marmageddon has been a harrowing time for lovers of yeast-based spreads. But it’s been a boon for the media. And, remarkably, there’s still a bit more blood to be squeezed out of this particular stone, because Saatchi & Saatchi, Spark PR & Activate, Sanitarium and photographer Chris Sisarich have come up with a novel way to raise funds for The Rebuild Christchurch Foundation this Christmas by auctioning 19 photographs of empty Marmite jars donated by New Zealand celebrities including Rachel Hunter, Sir Graham Henry, Jaquie Brown and Trelise Cooper. 

The Beautiful Struggle idea was led by Saatchi & Saatchi, which recognised that the patterns in the bottom of empty Marmite jars, in an artistic sense, symbolise the struggle Christchurch has been through.

“Out of darkness always comes light, and it is usually the brightest most beautiful beam. There is beauty everywhere if you stop and look,” says Antonio Navas, executive creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi NZ. “This is a project that is very dear to all of us at Saatchi and anything we can do to help those in need who are also part of our family. Like George Harrison said, ‘All things must pass'”

One original photograph of each celebrity’s Marmite jar will be framed with a signedOne original photograph of each celebrity’s Marmite jar will be framed with a signed lid, ready for auction via the website from 30 November to 9 December (disappointing efforts from Colin Meads, Paul Ego, Stu Tolan and Marc Ellis, as there’s at least a couple of spreads left in their jars, but kudos to Jaquie Brown’s food art and Iva Lankum’s commitment). But if you miss out,everyone can contribute to the cause, with limited edition prints available for $25 from 20 November to 9 December. 

“The imagery inside each jar is extremely distinctive, it’s more than just an empty Marmite jar,” says Sisarich. “It’s evident that everyone has been scraping at the bottom to get every last bit out—I know I have—and I hope that other Kiwis are taking a moment to reflect on the difficulties of the past two years for Christchurch as they reach the bottom of their jars. It fascinates me that something like Marmite, which is part of the daily routine for many Kiwis has been elevated to the realm of artwork since the shortage. It shows just how iconic Marmite is in New Zealand.”

All proceeds will go to the Rebuild Christchurch Foundation and Deon Swiggs of the Rebuild Christchurch Foundation says: “We are delighted to be partnering with Marmite lovers to raise funds for our Christmas initiative. Many people in Christchurch are continuing to struggle following the earthquakes and can’t provide a Christmas celebration for their family as they have in the past. We will be working with social agencies to help families who need assistance but normally wouldn’t ask for it. Last Christmas we helped 76 families and this year we hope to support over 300.”

General manager for Sanitarium New Zealand, Pierre van Heerden, says, “It is wonderful to see these last, treasured Marmite reserves used to raise funds for the Christchurch community, especially as the current shortage results from earthquake damage to the factory.”

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