Hating statistics and other cold hard facts, and loving stories instead, is very popular in our field right now. I’m mostly on that bandwagon too.

But what if you could use a good statistic to help tell your story?

I saw this Austim Speaks PSA with Toni Braxton on TV recently, and it caught my attention, even before I realized it was for a nonprofit.

The Toni Braxton ad is from 2009. Some newer versions feature NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and they follow the same basic “the odds of . . .” script. While there is some criticism of the ads in the autism community, I think they do a good job of conveying how common autism is.

The basic stat in all of the ads is that the odds of having a child diagnosed with autism are 1 in 110.  In other words, this is really pretty common. But just saying, “Hey, autism is common, so you better learn about it” isn’t very compelling.

To drive home how common it is, the ads juxtapose the “1 in 110”  against much rarer events (the chance of being discovered, or winning a NASCAR race) as they tell a person’s life story. The life story and the odds of other events within that story are what put the autism statistic in a context that is now much more interesting and memorable. Of course, the star power of those featured in ads helps too, because that’s what really sucks us into the commercial — seeing how the life story of these people we already know is unfolding, and then landing on that much more common event of having a child with autism.

Now that we understand how common it is, Austim Speaks hopes we will want to learn about the early signs of autism, which is the call to action of each video.

Where have you seen statistics and other cold hard facts work in nonprofit marketing?