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Special Project

Special Project
From the 12th Annual Shorty Awards

AARP Fit & Fun Health Challenge

Entered in Contest or Promotion


The CDC explains, “many people 50+ know they need and want help to focus on staying healthy, but many people fail to act because offerings are not sustainable.” Research indicates that people who are not very active and potentially frustrated want assistance when it comes to embracing a healthy lifestyle.

The issue of adoptability and sustainability drove AARP to further explore how to combat barriers to success.

Our research led us to the Köhler Effect concept, or the idea that nobody wants to be the weakest link in a group.1 Relating to fitness, this translates to pushing harder when tasked with working out with people who are more in shape than you. In fact, Researchers at Kansas State University found that people who exercised with someone they thought was better than them increased their workout time and intensity by 200%.2

Keeping the research top of mind and AARP’s desire for their audience to build healthy habits, AARP developed a campaign around the following consumer outcome: as a person who isn’t very active, I want to live a healthier lifestyle, so I can feel better and have more energy.



1NBC News. (2017, September). The health benefits of working out with a crowd.

2Kansas State University. (2012, November). Burning more calories is easier when working out with someone you perceive as better.

Strategy and Execution

From May 1st through June 30th, 2019, AARP invited its members and prospects to participate in the “Fit & Fun Heath Challenge.” The campaign was a digital experience that provided social support through personal daily tracking of fitness activity, a virtual buddy system, and toolkit of knowledge and strategies to hold entrants accountable and stay motivated while building healthy behaviors. The overall essence of the campaign was to inspire, motivate, provide a sense of community, and feel achievable to participants.

Key Campaign Features:

Join a Group: Entrants selected a fitness group based on where they were in their fitness journey (New Soles, Casual Walkers, or Fit Fanatics). This provided an avenue for entrants to feel part of a larger community, providing support, motivation, and inspiration.

Walking Time and Dashboard: Users entered their walking time to indicate how much they walked each day. This fused a deep connection with walkers and provided the data to display a graph and personal dashboard of activity to help visualize their efforts. Statistics featured on the dashboard included total minutes walked and average minutes walked per day.

If a user joined a group, they also saw their group’s stats to compare to their own including, total minutes walked by the entire group and average minutes walked per group member per day.

Invite Buddies: To apply the Köhler Effect principle, entrants were encouraged to invite buddies via email to join them in the challenge. If a buddy accepted the invite to participate, their achievements were visible in the referring buddy’s newsfeed. Buddies could also use a “cheer” function to celebrate their progress, which would display confetti the next time their buddy logged-in to the campaign.

Warm-up Room: The Warm-Up Room hosted content and activities for entrants to complete including short fitness videos, trivia, and a poll question. Content focused on educating on healthy habits and providing insight to user preferences and motivation.

User Generated Content: Each week, entrants were asked to post a photo responding to a new question and theme.

Motivating Activity: As a reward for tracking fitness activity and completing educational activities within the campaign, entrants earned chances to win a Spa Getaway for two!

Immediate Feedback Loop: In addition to deploying Foresee surveys to gain customer insight on the experience, thumbs up and thumbs down buttons were integrated into the creative to collect immediate feedback on whether entrants liked the feature or activity.


At its conclusion, The Fit & Fun Challenge introduced a new daily habit to over 116k users. The campaign was a success in motivating users to adopt healthy living behaviors with 87% of Foresee respondents reporting the campaign motivated them to get active. In fact, there were over 30.7 million total minutes walked logged across entrants, averaging 60.4 minutes per walker each day.

Over the course of the 60-day campaign, entrants completed over 150k activities in the warm-up room and submitted 3.8k pieces of user generated content. With over 30k votes, participants collectively rated all activities an average of 94% thumbs up, indicating the experience provided them with the tools and challenges necessary to motivate them to get active.

Participants were also eager to have their friends join in on the challenge, with over 34k Buddy Invites sent via email.  

What Participants Said:


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