The Most Useless Infographic Ever

The purpose of infographics is to take data that is initially tough to interpret and distill it into some high-level knowledge that readers can remember and take away with them. Upon picking up a six-pack of Cottonelle last night though, I think I found the most useless infographic ever:

Yes indeed. It’s a visual reminder that:

  • 1 x 1 = 1
  • 2 x 1 = 2
  • 3 x 1 = 3

That’s good times. And there’s even a 1-800 number you can call for further details as well as a website where perhaps you can plug in different values and see how many single rolls a quintuple roll would equal.

If I were the makers of Cottonelle, I’d probably use this space to showcase and romanticize the process by which they get Aloe into the toilet paper. I’ve always wondered about it.

For much better examples of infographics, check out a great book Rex showed me: Understanding USA.

33 comments on “The Most Useless Infographic Ever”. Leave your own?
  1. This is probably more of a case of “what the hell do we put in this large empty space … how about some sort of colorful infographic?”

    Agreed, though – it’s pretty useless!

  2. Su says:

    That may be the most useless, but this is the best infographic about anything anywhere ever. Seriously. Hover over…well, anything.

  3. Jeff Croft says:

    Yeah, but you still bought it. And so do I. Cottonelle is good stuff, man. Even if they do have stupid infographics.

  4. Jason Beaird says:

    Shouldn’t the rolls be getting larger?

  5. Jason says:

    I’m going to call, email, and send postal mail pretending to be confused, and looking for clarification. Just for fun!

  6. Tom Watson says:

    Yeah, looks like a filler space infographic to me–pretty worthless.

  7. Corey Spring says:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa slow this down for me, all this calculus is too fast for me.

  8. Sherri Keller says:

    Why are the sound waves coming out of the bottom of the telephone receiver?

  9. Josh Byers says:

    I find it fascinating that the actual graphics of the rolls themselves don’t appear to get bigger. I’m much more interested in an info graphic explaining that bit of toilet tech.

  10. Andrew says:

    Cottonelle gets all beady and stuck in your butt. It’s all about wet wipes followed by cheap 1-ply ;)

  11. Robert C. says:

    I will admit that I have found the single, double, and triple rolls of toilet paper confusing. I assumed at first that the double rolls weren’t really exactly double, but were just maybe 50% bigger than the single.

    I know what double means, but I expect product names to be intentionally misleading, not accurate. (Plus, the diameter of the rolls doesn’t double, even though the number of sheets doubles, so the size is slightly counterintuitive.)

    I think I had to find out the hard way — by reading the package, which has always told you how many sheets you get. This handy infographic would have saved me some time. Not a lot of time. But if you’re looking for an explanation for why this infographic exists, there it is.

  12. Vince says:

    Baby wipes…you’ll never go back!

  13. Josh Stodola says:

    This seems like an observation that George Costanza would make (any Seinfeld fanatics out there?!).

    LOL it says “Roll Size Guide” but the size of the rolls are the same.

    And what the hell is the deal with comment from the escaped psych ward inmate (#5)?

  14. Geoff says:

    That’s funny, I just noticed at the store last night that some of the manufacturers have changed their naming conventions. Charmin now uses “Huge” and “Mega” rolls instead of the old “Double” or “Triple”.

  15. Ryan says:

    I use to read those things while spending an unreasonable amount of time in the bathroom at work. I always felt like my IQ dropped after I was done.

  16. Jason says:

    Yes, this is useless to some of us, but you need to remember that a fairly large portion the American public are not exactly smart.

  17. david gouch says:

    Hah, that reminds of the info on a Pepsi carton:

    “36-PACK! 50% MORE than a 24-pack”

  18. Tufte might say that Cottonelle is lying via graphics by presenting rolls of the same size rather than rolls of 2x and 3x the volume.

    … yeah. Cottonelle. That’s some good TP.

  19. Calichef says:

    Hey Andrew @ space 10 (above)-

    Cottonelle acutally is one ply. You have it confused with Charmin, I think. Charmin breaks down fairly easily, but Cottonelle is actually quite, uh… sturdy. (I nearly wrote “tough,” but that just seemed really wrong in describing toilet paper.)

    Anyway, just thought I could clarify the toilet tissue, uh, issue. I’m a girl, we use more of it, so we know more about it.

  20. Jason Beaird writes:

    Shouldn’t the rolls be getting larger?

    That’s what I thought as well.

    Sherri Keller writes:

    Why are the sound waves coming out of the bottom of the telephone receiver?

    I didn’t notice that, but that is hilarious!

  21. Shawn says:

    You never know when you’re going to have to split up the triple layered Cottonelle into singles.

  22. Jared Smith says:

    I’ve actually spent a lot of time pondering that graphic – you do tend to have a bit of spare time in there. For added entertainment and mental exertion, the graphic also indicates the number of squares in each of the three roll sizes (176, 352, and 528). Oh, don’t worry, I’ve done the math like a thousand times and it all works out.

  23. John A. Davis says:

    Cottonelle ain’t great for everything, but on the whole it’s ok

  24. abbie says:

    HAHA! Reminds me of the movie Idiocracy. I hated the movie, but Mike Judge had something to say; maybe “idiot-proofing” products might lead to the dumbing-down of society.

  25. JoeDrinker says:

    You know that was some marketing person who said “we’re paying for full color on the back too dammit – throw some more colors in there!” This chart was the designer’s way out because they’re religiously opposed to starbursts.

    And at John Davis post #23 –

    Cottonelle ain’t great for everything, but on the whole it’s ok


  26. GrammarNazi says:

    More precisely, you mean:

    “The purpose of infographics is to take data that are initially tough to interpret and distill them into some high-level knowledge…”

    Sorry, it’s instinctual.

  27. Jeff Scott says:

    I remember an old Consumer Reports article relating to this. Over a period of several years Charmin’ TP reduced the size of their rolls only to unveil a double roll later on. The double roll had just as many sq. in. of tp as the originals.

  28. Jeff Edsell says:

    Su writes:
    That may be the most useless, but this is the best infographic about anything anywhere ever. Seriously. Hover over…well, anything.

    OW! My frontal lobe!

  29. Newman Huh says:

    Glad I found this blog. I’m not sure why package designers and marketers are so compelled to take mundane objects and unnecessarily bolster them with gimmicky graphics that only confuse the simpletons. I tend to get little suspicious when people particularize the ridiculousness. I think package graphics tend to be universally notorious when it comes to dopey art. You don’t have to look hard to find them.

    Two informational graphics that come to my mind that really begged the question of “what the f***?” were found on two publication over a decade ago. One was from the newspaper, Newsday (L.I., New York), which showed capital punishment of caning in Singapore of an American teenager (in the buff), and a Spanish publication, El Mundo (me thinks), that showed the step-by-step process of crucifixon of the Christ. This was elaborately done with great attention paid to the elements of the torture. Lovely…

  30. Michel says:

    Personally I’m more in favor of a nice puppy on toilet paper packing. Off course everybody wants to wipe their ass with a puppy ;)

  31. Lewis Aleman says:

    This made me laugh.

    I’m routinely amazed at some stupidity in a product’s label while shopping at the grocery store. It never fails that at least once on every trip, something like this pops out and half annoys/half entertains me. The thought always occurs to me; are the people making the product really that dumb, or do they think we, the buying public, are that clueless?

    Sadly, I think it’s the second. And, what would probably depress us all, is that I’d bet they have consumer studies to document that nonsense like the infographic on the back of the toilet paper packaging actually increases sales.

  32. Kay says:

    This is an interesting thread … now if you all want to get a little more agitated about it, check out the roll size reductions that went along with this “new look” – apparently the new label is meant solely to camouflage that we’re now paying whatever percentage more per sheet! (I didn’t do the math.)

    I get so flamed by this stuff all the time. Coffee used to be sold by the pound, now a can is what, 11.2 ounces? The Smirnoff Ice I had over the weekend was only an 11 ounce bottle – but it sure looked like a standard 12 oz! Mayonnaise in the That fancy new upside down squeeze bottle – nowhere near the 32 oz. in the standard jar.

    Anyway, in my view sometimes it’s better to just call a spade a spade, and raise the price fifty or 75 cents. I just wrote to Cottonelle and told them so, too. (maybe they’ll send me some freebies or something.)

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