Campaign Strategist | Copywriter

AARP | Ad Council
Ace Your Retirement

We partnered with the Ad Council and AARP to provide retirement planning tips that are clear, personalized, and actionable, using an interactive chatbot experience that is approachable and delightfully unexpected. 

Retirement advice doesn’t have to be complicated. But according to AARP, three out of four Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 years old have less than $30,000 saved for retirement.

Finding a creative way to address that sobering statistic was the challenge brought to us by the Ad Council and AARP. We needed a more positive and engaging way to empower 50-somethings to save, so we nixed the often grim and impersonal financial calculators and instead created an approachable retirement chatbot named Avo. Avo guides users through 3 minutes of delightful animations and easy-to-answer questions, ultimately providing a personalized set of the top 3 actions each user can take to get his or her retirement on track.

While AARP is a well-known resource for active retirees, they also have a wealth of information for people who are still years away from retirement. To more effectively reach that audience we needed to make AARP’s resources more accessible, but we didn’t want to create another basic retirement calculator — the kind that asks a million questions and provides tips like, “buy fewer lattes”. After user testing a few prototypes, we landed on our final concept: a chatbot-like experience that walks users through a short list of preparedness questions, and then provides a personalized set of retirement action items.

Building a chatbot that can hold up its end of the “conversation” doesn’t always require natural language processing. Focusing on thoughtful character design helped us devise a less complicated variation that still feels fully alive and engaged. Starting with a basic smile emoji as our inspiration, we designed a set of custom character emotions and a unique animation to pair with each. We also shaped Avo’s voice to feel conscientious and agreeable to ensure we were addressing a potentially sensitive topic in a warm and accessible way.

We named the chatbot character "Avo" — short for "Avocado" — which is an Australian slang term for a $100 bill. 

Creating an engaging experience was one of our key goals, but ensuring the information we provided was accurate and useful was our most important task. We sorted through over 300 retirement articles that AARP provided, ultimately organizing them using an extremely hard-working Trello board. We then refined that content into sets of recommendations, or “action items”, that could be mapped to various user inputs. After working with AARP’s subject matter experts to vet and revise our action items, we styled the copy using the Avo brand voice and included bonus “jump starts” and to-do lists to make the information as actionable as possible.

We successfully partnered with the Ad Council and AARP to provide a retirement planning resource that features easy-to-answer questions in a fun and approachable format.

Art Direction: Owen Shifflett
Animation Design: Minh Tran
UX Design: Laura Sweltz & Katherine Olvera
Additional Copywriting: Natalie Reich
Front-End Development: Greg Kohn

Another project, perhaps?

Ally Fouts is a creative director, brand strategist, writer, and awestruck human living and working in Los Angel-ish.
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