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Real People, Real Stories Series

Entered in Multicultural Community Engagement, Video Series


AARP’s Real People, Real Stories series celebrates the actions of ordinary individuals from diverse backgrounds whose actions have made an extraordinary impact on themselves and a wider community. The series continues AARP Studios’ longstanding tradition of powerful profiles on Facebook but with a more templatized, quicker-turn approach. 

From the outset, our goals were to ramp up production of these age-positive, human interest profiles; develop a pipeline for authentic, multicultural voices; and create a storytelling vehicle that inspires, connects and uplifts viewers to choose how they live as they age. Our hypothesis was that by finding and telling stories that speak to underserved audiences, and meeting them where they were – on Facebook – we could generate initial interest with a target audience and then expand the story’s impact to resonate with all viewers who appreciate compelling narratives and inspirational storytelling.


In order to accomplish our goals of not only creating a series of age-positive human interest profiles but doing so in a timely manner, we needed to come up with a templatized style for the series both in its look and story outline. 

Each video features a central character that aligns with AARP’s social mission and includes an originally filmed interview and b-roll. Before deciding on what characters to focus on or stories to tell, we designed a set of criteria that a “Real People, Real Story” video must meet. An AARP Real People, Real Story must have three core tenets: it must be a people-driven human interest story that connects, inspires, and uplifts; it must have a clear and lasting impact on the individual and a wider community; and it must be able to answer the question “Why is AARP telling this story?” 

“Why is AARP telling this story?” is our most important tenet when telling any story, especially our Real People, Real Story Profiles. Whether highlighting a caregiving issue or illustrating ways to be healthy and fulfilled as you age, our stories should connect with our core audience and highlight AARP’s social mission. Our Real People, Real Story profiles allow people to engage with AARP and share the story among  their own social network. 

Intentionally crafting diverse and multicultural narratives was another vital aspect of meeting audiences where they are. In choosing our subjects, it was important to have purposeful representation from multicultural groups. For some of our Hispanic/Latino subjects who felt more comfortable speaking Spanish, we interviewed them in Spanish and added English subtitles to the final video. This approach allowed us to authentically and comfortably capture our subjects. 

Since this is a social-first video series, we know graphics and text-on-screen are a vital part of the storytelling experience, particularly for “sound-off” viewing. So, we created a unified graphics package and “story guide” rules to allow for more consistent storytelling, including hooking viewers at the top with a key message and visuals. We devised an incubation period to test this new concept with five stories and adhered to strict pre- and post-production schedules. Based on the feedback and metrics from those five stories we continued to develop and hone the series making it what it has become today, the top engaged video series on AARP’s Facebook page.


This series has exceeded goals and has connected greatly with our audience. We were successfully able to ramp up our production of this series since its launch in September 2021. Additionally, this series has developed a viable pipeline of stories featuring diverse and underrepresented voices. 

This series is a standout performer on AARP’s website and social media accounts. In 2023, we published 25 new episodes in the series and reached nearly 31 million people on Facebook. The series earned more than 20 million views and generated more than 2 million engagements.

​​We’ve found that the stories are resonating with viewers. This emotional impact has been demonstrated through comments such as, “What a beautiful soul, you have to be who you are meant to be, I hope you inspire many young souls to find their true self” and “Beautiful! Gives us all hope for future health and continued activity.”


Video for Real People, Real Stories Series

Entrant Company / Organization Name

AARP Studios


Entry Credits