Exploring the Intersection of Journalism and Brand Storytelling

An Interview with Jon Mowat at the TwentyThree Summit 2024

The annual TwentyThree Summit always delivers great insights from people in Video Marketing who have pioneered their way through this new industry. In the 2024 TwentyThree Summit, I had the pleasure of encountering a figure who continuously navigates the realms of journalism and brand marketing.

Jon Mowat, a seasoned journalist turned marketing expert, brings a wealth of experience and insight to the evolving landscape of content marketing and brand storytelling. Our conversation shed light on the unique journey that led him from the BBC to the forefront of brand storytelling and video marketing.

From the BBC to Brand Marketing

Jon Mowat’s career began in the storied halls of the BBC, where he spent 16 years as an observational documentary filmmaker. His work spanned an impressive array of topics—from documenting cheetahs in Namibia to covering the genocide in Rwanda. His experiences culminated in a profound project, “Fighting the War,” where he was embedded with the British Royal Marines during the second Gulf War. This intense period of his career was both challenging and transformative.
Reflecting on his time at the BBC, Mowat remarked, “Being a publisher taught me a lot. Working on shows like Countryfile, where I created three-minute films weekly, ingrained in me the essentials of storytelling—beginning, middle, end, all of it. But transitioning to brand marketing required an entirely new language.”

The Evolution of Content Marketing

As the digital age dawned, the traditional methods of marketing—billboards and 30-second TV spots—gave way to a new paradigm: content marketing and brand storytelling. Mowat and I delved into this shift, exploring how brands now engage with audiences across a myriad of digital platforms.
“The advent of digital media has revolutionized how brands reach their audiences. It’s no longer just about a billboard or a TV slot. Content marketing allows for a deeper, more engaging form of storytelling,” Mowat explained. “Depending on where you are in the sales funnel, the approach varies. At the top, it’s about emotive stories that change behavior by changing how people feel. In the middle, it’s about long-form content that keeps people engaged. And at the bottom, it’s direct calls to action—‘buy now,’ ‘here’s a discount code.’”

Navigating B2C and B2B Marketing

Our conversation naturally flowed into the distinctions between B2C (business-to-consumer) and B2B (business-to-business) marketing. While the principles of storytelling remain consistent, the execution can differ significantly.
“In B2C, you might not have as long to capture someone’s attention. It’s often quick, engaging content. But in B2B, where you’re dealing with larger, more complex sales, the content can—and often should—be more in-depth,” Mowat said. “Regardless, the fundamental process remains: capturing attention, building interest, and driving action.”

The Multichannel Challenge

One of the pressing challenges for modern brands is navigating the plethora of available channels—TikTok, YouTube, and beyond. Mowat offered sage advice: “Pick your playing field. If you’re an e-commerce brand, your strategy will differ from a B2B company. There’s an obsession with being on every platform, but it’s more important to be strategic.”
He also highlighted the complexity of modern content production. “In the past, delivering a film meant sending a single DVD. Now, a standard delivery pack might include 23 or 24 variations—different formats, languages, subtitles. Planning for this complexity is crucial.”

The Power of Integration

Mowat spoke highly of the TwentyThree Platform, particularly its integration capabilities. “The platform’s ability to plug into your CMS and CRM systems is a game-changer. It allows you to track video engagement and retarget viewers effectively. That’s the killer application for me.”

Maintaining Integrity

In a world where AI and digital content are reshaping the landscape, Mowat and I touched on the importance of maintaining integrity. “You still need integrity, especially with the advances in AI. As an agency, we stand our ground on what’s right and wrong, but it’s a constantly evolving balance,” Mowat asserted.

Looking Ahead

As our conversation wound down, we mused about future collaborations. The potential for a webinar loomed enticingly on the horizon. “I’d love to continue this conversation. A webinar sounds perfect,” Mowat said with a smile.

Our exchange at the TwentyThree Summit 2024 was a testament to the dynamic interplay between journalism and brand marketing. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the principles of storytelling and integrity remain steadfast, guiding brands to connect authentically with their audiences.

Recommended Actions for Brand Professionals

  1. Embrace Emotive Storytelling at Different Sales Funnel Stages:
    Tailor your content to the specific stage of the sales funnel. At the top, focus on creating emotive stories that build a strong emotional connection with your audience. In the middle, engage with longer-form content like podcasts or in-depth articles. At the bottom, use direct calls to action to drive conversions.
  2. Strategically Choose Your Digital Platforms:
    Avoid the temptation to be present on every social media and digital platform. Instead, select the platforms that align best with your brand’s goals and audience. Whether it’s TikTok for quick, engaging content or LinkedIn for in-depth B2B interactions, focus your efforts where they will be most effective.
  3. Plan for Multichannel Content Delivery:
    Prepare for the complexity of modern content delivery by planning ahead. Ensure your content is adaptable to various formats and languages. Create a detailed delivery pack that includes all necessary variations such as subtitles, cleans, verticals, landscapes, and multiple languages to meet diverse audience needs.
  4. Leverage Integration Capabilities of Video Platforms:
    Utilize platforms that integrate seamlessly with your CMS and CRM systems. This integration allows for better tracking of viewer engagement and more effective retargeting, ensuring that your video content is not just seen but also strategically contributes to your marketing pipeline.
  5. Maintain Integrity in Content Creation:
    Uphold high standards of integrity in your content, even as you leverage new technologies like AI. Balance commercial objectives with editorial integrity to build and maintain trust with your audience. This is crucial for long-term brand loyalty and reputation management.

Jomar Reyes is a content strategist, community leader and founder of Brand Leadership Community. He is dedicated to advancing the practice of brand storytelling.

For more insights and updates, stay tuned to the Brand Leadership Community. And to explore Jon Mowat’s work, visit hurricanemedia.co.uk.

Jon Mowat

Jon Mowat

Founder of Hurricane Media

About Hurricane Media
Hurricane Media is at the forefront in the evolving field of video marketing, specializing in producing highly creative and effective video campaigns for agencies and brands. Recognized for their innovative approach, Hurricane Media is dedicated to helping clients navigate the increasingly video-centric marketing landscape. Jon Mowat, the Managing Director, has authored a book titled “Video Marketing Strategy,” providing valuable insights and guidance for marketers aiming to excel in a video-first environment.
Focused on creative ideas, customer service and quality work Hurricane media’s people have worked on TV ads, network BBC documentaries, Channel 4 shows and hundreds of brand films.