Don’t Use Big Numbers – By @Joebee731

By Joe Colquhoun


Don’t Use Big Numbers


I wanted to try and avoid talking about D&AD for this scab, it’s been a bit of a semi-conscious blur, plus it’s probably time we all moved on anyway. Instead, I wanted to focus on some advice I got from Marc once mine and Alex’s video had been sent off.

“Don’t use big numbers, people don’t understand them”

I always kind of knew this was true of myself. Whenever I saw ads for charity I’d always lose interest when they started throwing around numbers that dipped into the millions.

“884 million people don’t have access to clean drinking water.”

Fuck, that sounds like a lot, but that’s it. I can’t actually comprehend that number, it just sounds like a big problem, one that I, a single person could never hope to fix. Needless to say, I felt like a bit of a dick when I did exactly that for my D&AD video.

“2.5 million tampons are flushed down the toilet every day in the UK”. Great.

“The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic”, I reckon Stalin and Marc would’ve been pals.

The phenomenon is known as extension neglect, where large numbers become a statistical reality, not a personal one.

In advertising, we want to talk to people on an individual level, not a statistical one. Unless there’s a smart way to make this data understandable to our tiny little baby brains, you may as well leave it out altogether.

So I’ve done the math to try and make my statistic a bit more quantifiable.

On average, a box of tampons on weighs 147 grams, minus the cardboard box and the plastic applicators, I reckon we’d be at about 75 grams give or take. Divided by 20, (that’s how many are in a pack) we can assume that a single tampon without the applicator or packaging weighs around 3.5 grams.

Now the average period will amount to around 5 ml of blood per tampon, this equates to around 5.3 grams of blood. Now 3.5 plus 5.3 grams equals 8.8 grams per tampon once it’s been used.

This number multiplied by 2.5 million is 22,000,000 grams or 22,000 kilograms. Still doesn’t mean much to me. Coincidentally though, this number is equal to a small Grey whale, on average weighing about 26,000 kilograms.

Therefore and this is very much an estimation based on my extensive experience of GCSE maths, the menstrual cycle and Whales. Every day the weight of a smallish Grey Whale of used tampons is flushed down our toilets in the UK alone.

Now there’s a statistic that would make me sit up and listen. Mainly cause I like whales.



The copy scores 71 in the Flesch Reading Ease test

Related SCABs

Go back

Student Application

  • Fill out the Application Form below to be a part of our next Award-Winning intake.

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY