In an age where negative news stories dominate mainstream media, Beautiful News offers a glimmer of hope, optimism and positivity. The creation of filmmaker Adrian Steirn, Beautiful News has been celebrating the spirit of South Africans by telling their uplifting stories through short films, with one new story released each day at precisely 4.14pm for the past two years.

Steirn’s goal of offering up positive stories has long resonated with luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz SA, which first worked with the filmmaker in his 21 Icons project. The company has partnered with Steirn on Beautiful News since the project’s inception.

Last week Mercedes-Benz announced that it was renewing this partnership and, in celebration of what would have been former president Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday on July 18, has featured a week of stories about the iconic leader, paying tribute to his legacy.

Mercedes-Benz has had a long association with Madiba: in the year that he was released from prison the car manufacturer’s local plant workers donated their time while the company donated the materials to build an S-class for the iconic leader. 

Father of a nation. Pillar of freedom. Bastion of hope. Today we celebrate #Mandela100. Happy birthday, Tata.

Beautiful News is an editorially independent platform, said Steirn during a recent press conference. It focuses on community-focused, positive stories in each film. Each story is a beautifully crafted cameo that provides a glimpse into the lives of people who are defying the odds to change their own lives or the lives of those around them.

During the first year of its partnership with Beautiful News, the car brand’s logo appeared only in the very last frame of each film, though branding was included earlier during the second year. Mercedes-Benz marketing manager Mayur (Miles) Bhana says this is not the firm’s typical marketing approach and emphasises their partnership is not about commercial gain but rather in the spirit of Mandela’s legacy and about being inspiring and being part of a positive initiative that celebrates the human spirit.

Nowadays, said Steirn, there are not many commercial brands brave enough to provide this level of support to a vehicle like Beautiful News, with little commercial reward.

This year Beautiful News moved its primary platform to Facebook, a move that appears to have paid off, if viewership figures are anything to go by. In the first three months of 2018 its films were watched by 25 million people, compared with 15 million in the same period a year ago.

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The big take-out

Beautiful News stories aim to provide relief, hope and inspiration through short films and photographs that are positive, authentic and reflect the enduring spirit of South Africans.