What would life look like...

This qualitative essay uses the dimensions of narrative advertising to analyze a brand content that demonstrates drastic consequences for daily life when the element of craft is subtracted. 

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The branded content used here is from a 2010 image campaign highlighting the importance of craftsmanship to promote the goals of the  Deutsche Handwerkskammer (DHKT, 2022), whose purpose is to support and represent all stakeholders in the craft industry. The video targets everyone and addresses the existential role of craftsmanship. Since it is an older production and the DHKT changed the look and feel of the brand, it’s no longer visible on their channels or website, but is still accessible through other sources (Handelskammer, 2010). This content has been chosen because it doesn’t concern a specific issue or challenge, but reminds its viewers of the overarching significance the industry has for every individual – even if it’s not obvious or visible. This approach is in line with the client’s objective of promoting the connection between the operative nature of surveys and the goal of consciously shaping the future through research.

As the story of the video is detached form any specific time, it must be viewed in the larger context of megatrends: Connectivity describes not only networking based on digital infrastructures, but also a fundamental change in our lives, work, and economy (Horx, 2021). This also results in a perceived distance between the real and the digital, pushing the importance of manual skills and products out of people’s minds. It also touches upon urbanisation and globalisation and how people in highly functional environments don’t have to give much thought to the origins and consumption of the basic necessities that create the world around them (ibid). To address these awareness gaps and gain a deeper understanding of the story in relation to its elements, the theory of narrative advertising will be applied to evaluate the hypothesis that showing consequences using narration highlights the significance of a concept.


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Deutsche Handwerkskammer
Scholz & Friends Agency
Was wäre das Leben ohne das Handwerk
What would life be without crafts
2:20 minutes


„We are, as a species, addicted to story,“ explains Jonathan Gottschall (2012), who refers to humans as homo fictus—or storytelling animal. People have always communicated, thought, and learned in stories, and have thus remembered (Schank & Berman, 2002). As a result, new messages, similarly presented, can be more easily absorbed, understood, and processed (Escalas, 2004).

To identify the narrative ad structure, this work uses methods of synthesizing prior literature from Kim, Ratneshwar, and Thorson’s into the following elements (2017):

Who looks at the presence of a main protagonist.
What refers to the characters behaviour and the consequences.
When & where cover the setting and context of the ad.
Why refers to the motivations behind the happenings.
How is a portrayal of the actions involving the actors.
Chronology refers to the timeframe and sequences of the ad.

Multiple studies have proven that narrative ads have greater persuasive power than non-narrative ads.  Deighton, McQueen and Romer (1989, p. 336) declared that the dramatic component of an ad with storytelling convinces the viewer through empathic processing: The viewer feels more immersed in the story if the actions in the ad seem authentic and relatable. In addition, Brock and Green (2000, p. 718) identified a different cause, called transportation, which describes the best-case scenario of the viewers state as pleasant or flowing, thereby decreasing negative thoughts and improving the performance of the ad. Escalas (2004) also proposed that mental simulation plays an important role in narratives by enabling viewers to visualize handling and benefiting from the advertised product. Furthermore, de Graaf (2012) declared the viewer’s identification with the protagonists as an important factor for the superiority of narrative ads. Using this knowledge, narrative advertising can communicate effectively by capturing consumers‘ attention in order to promote advertised products or services, demonstrate appeal, and persuade consumers to consider them (Escalas, 2004).


The following applies the above factors:

Who: The story follows a middle-aged man and woman through the events of the video. It starts and ends with their reaction to the environment. For a short time, other characters also take centre stage to show a particular struggle.

When & where: The beginning of the video shows a normal day in a city. Sudden decay progresses quickly and only ends with the complete destruction of the surroundings and all objects, turning the busy streets and houses into a desert with naked, dirty people.

What: The behaviours of the main and secondary characters are mainly passive in nature. The world is crumbling around them, and the story places an emphasis on the helplessness and powerlessness experienced in this decay. There are few choices to be made. They can leave the current location after the first signs of deterioration, leading to street meetings (0:48). At the end (1:43), ), the man decides to make a fire with what he has, leaving him frustrated (2:14).

Despite the escalating events, both behave rather calmly throughout the video.

Chronology & how: The man is in the workplace and first becomes aware of unusual street-level occurrences (0:08) before the papers he is holding fall apart (0:12), followed by the decay of his ring (0:20). After that, his office begins to crumble, the wallpaper falls off, the table legs give in, and the structure of the building decays. So he leaves (0:36). At the same time the woman is sitting in a cafe and does not notice the changes taking place around her until the bun in her hand turns to dust (0:13) and the letters fall off the newspaper she holds (0:15). In the meantime, another woman’s shoes give way, a man’s glasses unravel, and confused people can be seen in the background between dissolving cars, buildings, and streets. Clothes are torn open (1:02), and the instruments of an orchestra stop working (1:09) and, as another man gets off the underground, the city has disappeared, and people are barely clothed anymore (1:18). Eventually the main couple find a mirror that hasn’t quite disappeared and see how they look, clearly seeming unhappy. Finally, it starts to rain, and they have nothing to protect them from the elements (1:40). A text appears above this last scene and raises the question, „What would life be without crafts?” 

Why: Everything dissolves progressively, leading to more drastic and visually powerful decay. This narrative arc of everyday situations evokes an end-time scenario through subtle changes and vividly shows what connects everyday objects: crafts. The often unnoticed and unappreciated products and skills of craftsmanship are existential. The ad highlights that.

The analysis must determine whether the viewers are immersed in the video, transported, mentally stimulated, and able to identify with the characters:

As already mentioned, many aspects of craftsmanship go unrecognised and unappreciated. The video visualises through narrative small personal items and existential matters as the result of manual labour, skill, and knowledge. The variety of objects affected and the drastic difference between the first and the last frame help the viewer understand the implications of the end question. Vivid images and the lack of explanation leave the recipient wondering why this is happening, causing the mental simulation that results in less cognitive resources for negative thoughts about the ad (Escalas, 2004).

The vivid images also aid in the process of transportation. From the very first frame described in where & when, the depicted situations are very realistic. The viewer can immediately relate to the mundane setting and becomes as perplexed with what is about to start. The events proceed in a long, ever-increasing crescendo, grabbing the viewer’s attention. The curiosity sparked transports the recipient into the story and helps to change attitudes and behaviours towards the topic as desired (Murphy, Frank, & Chat, 2013).

When the viewer feels immersed in the video, it’s also an indicator for empathetic processing (Green & Brock, 2000). Although the story is not realistic, empathetic processing is enhanced because the recipient is able to simulate mentally the events portrayed (Escalas, 2004).

It is easy to identify with the protagonists with their ordinary lives and witness the crumbling around them in awe. The rather mild reactions of the main characters help the recipient to observe and pay attention to the details, when panic would suggest an immediate threat. The viewer can also relate with the man’s frustration in the last scene and can appreciate the fact that craftsmanship prevents enduring the same ordeals.


After identifying the concrete narrative structure of the video, the key aspects of narrative advertising were outlined. These combined show how the story managed to convey the message of the necessity of craftsmanship.

The broadcast of the video on television in 2010 reached a large audience. The actual success of this large-scale campaign is not apparent, as it is no longer used, and the analysis is retrospective and external. However, the DHKT successfully achieved its goal by depicting a world without crafts. Regarding the thesis of this work, it can be stated that above all the consequences depicted were decisive for the message.

To put these results into perspective for quo PEOPLE, the similarity of communication goals should be mentioned again. As Deutsche Handelskammer, quo PEOPLE provides a service with reach of consequences for everybody. The absence of associated market research will undeniably lead to a world in which the individual will go unheard and eventually be alienated from where society is moving. Therefore, quo PEOPLE can benefit from using big scheme narratives for their content and media strategy, as shown. The importance of market research as a whole can be vehicle to reach quo PEOPLE’s content strategy’s goals, regardless of specific services, products, or terms.


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