Ace Your Retirement

  • AARP
  • Challenge

    Empower 50-somethings to start saving more for their retirement.

  • Solution

    Create a planning resource that features easy-to-answer questions in a fun and approachable format.

  • Results

    A 3-minute conversation with a friendly chatbot that provides a personalized set of retirement action items. There have been over 395,000 chat completions and 837,000 action item views.

Retirement advice doesn’t have to be complicated. According to AARP, 3 out of 4 Americans between 55 and 64 have less than $30K 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.

  • Strategy Putting Retirement Within Reach

    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.

  • Character Design Bringing the Idea to Life

    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.

  • Behind the Scenes Why "Avo"?

    We named the chatbot character "Avo" — short for "Avocado" — which is an Australian slang term for a $100 bill. We also experimented with a wide range of facial expressions before landing on Avo’s core personality set.

  • The Build Making It Work

    We built the experience in Craft, which allowed us to get the work into a testable environment quickly and start tweaking things like the timing of animations. Avo’s questions are meant to be easy to answer — housed in a clean mobile-first UI, with no personal financial data required. But on the back-end, users’ responses were mapped to specific sets of “action item” recommendations, using a system we designed and then vetted with AARP’s subject matter experts.

  • Animation Timing Is Everything

    Like a friendly round toothless shark, we needed Avo to be constantly moving to bolster the character’s life-like appearance. The challenge was creating an animated “resting” state for Avo that was long enough to communicate personality, but could also be interrupted mid-cycle to respond to a user input. Our solution was breaking Avo’s resting state animation into four "micro-animations" that we looped together; this meant we could pause at the end of any individual state to respond to a user interaction. We used the Bodymovin After Effects extension to export all of Avo’s animations to HTML.

  • Content Strategy Making It Worthwhile

    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 retirement planning tips that are clear, personalized, and actionable, using an interactive chatbot experience that is fun, approachable, and delightfully unexpected.