The Deconstructed Brief

9-Mile Scroll


Brand: Shine on Sierra Leone
Agency: David&Goliath


Last year placed consumers in disaster overload, with an overwhelming number of natural disasters — events such as hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires ravaged the international community. These catastrophes resulted in repeated requests from humanitarian aid organizations for monetary donations. As 2017 came to a close, many groups worried about a decrease in funding during this critical time in the year. Nonprofit management program Boomerang discovered that nonprofits raise a full 50 percent of their funding during the last three months of the year.

David&Goliath needed to assist Shine On Sierra Leone in raising the funds to build new schools in centralized locations for village schoolchildren. The agency listened to impactful interviews from children walking an average of  100 miles per week to attend class and wanted to translate this sentiment into a meaningful campaign. The site launched during one of the busiest times of the year for nonprofits, signifying that David&Goliath needed something exceptional to cut through the clutter and eliminate viewer apathy to encourage donations. 

One Thought:

Bringing education one step closer.

Creative Idea:

Contextualize the nine-mile walk to school for children in Sierra Leone by challenging site visitors to scroll for nine miles.


The 9 Mile Scroll website challenges users to scroll the site for a total of five hours and 15 minutes: the approximate amount of time it takes children in Sierra Leone to walk the nine miles to school. Throughout the journey, users encounter an assortment of obstacles at each mile marker that mirror those the children face during their journey. One of the more unsettling impediments appears at mile seven, reading “Adults: the Most Dangerous Predator,” in reference to the local trafficking trade. 

An integrated sidebar counts the miles “walked,” while prompting users to donate to the campaign. The mile four marker reads, “Insert New School Here,” to highlight the campaign’s objective: build a school four miles out so that students only have an eight-mile round-trip — as opposed to 18. The scrolling website illustrates this situation in a manner understood by first-world consumers, and it uses the tactile to create a tangible connection between potential donors and the problem. 

What they told Adweek:

“The inspiration behind the ‘9 Mile Scroll’ came from the children whose stories we heard while researching this project,” said agency Creative Director Greg Buri. “When we found out that they walk up to nine miles to school one way, daily, the fact just stuck with us. Then we asked ourselves: When was the last time we walked nine miles for anything? And how could we contextualize the distance so others can relate to the extreme lengths these kids go for an education?”

Lessons to be learned:

  • Eliminate the abstract. Causes that potential donors cannot connect with see significant difficulty in accruing donations. For individuals who have access to personal or public transportation, the distances these children walk serve as an inaccessible and inconceivable abstraction. David&Goliath created a medium where individuals could access the campaign’s central problem in an innovative and personal manner. The agency used footage from the walk itself that would provide an authentic experience for the user, and it partnered with a small camera unit in Sierra Leone to film the walk with the kids.
  • Put it in perspective.  The mere idea of scrolling a site for nine miles sounds daunting, thereby juxtaposing one of our most mundane and everyday tasks — scrolling sites — with the harsh reality that faces these schoolkids. David&Goliath hijacked a mindless and automatic activity and transformed it into a powerful and immersive experience by forcing the user to interact with this action in a new way. By creating a livable experience, users better comprehend the disparity existing between the first and third worlds, and more meaning is placed behind a donation.
  • Make it big. — David&Goliath needed to go big to achieve its objective of standing out from the crowd. The agency could have created a site that took an extensive, albeit shorter, time to scroll; however, it chose to calculate the exact ratio of scrolling time necessary to mimic the physical journey. This allows the length to serve as a serious, relatable metaphor, rather than a gimmicky diversion in other endurance campaigns.