Growing Brand Awareness | O’Donnells and Grey’s Anatomy

Client: O'Donnells Hand Cooked Crisps

Project: Grey's Anatomy Sponsorship

Primary Platform: RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player



In 2017, O'Donnells was the #1 hand cooked crisp brand in Ireland, and had been for the past five years*. With six award-winning flavours, they were also the joint 3rd biggest crisp brand on the market. They mainly marketed their product through consumer shows, with a combined footfall of 500,000, and glossy magazines.

Brand awareness was low**, the was no new product development in the pipeline and yet there were high growth expectations. Their objective was two-fold:

  • O'Donnells needed to grow brand awareness.
  • They, in turn, needed to grow purchase consideration for O'Donnells crisps.
  • They wanted to reach a mass audience.
  • And, they wanted to be able amplify any activity on social media.


Additional marketing budget was allocated to allow them to target a broader audience.


What was the opportunity?  

O'Donnells work on their brand profile told them that 71% of their customers were 25-44, 80% were ABC1, 57% were female and they had a slight bias to Munster, Dublin and the rest of Leinster***. In terms of media consumption, their brand profile was active on social media, consumed glossy magazines and would be aware of brands that advertised on TV, in cinemas and outdoor****.

The opportunity to sponsor a "big brand" property like Grey's Anatomy allowed them to target a similar audience to their brand profile, with 25-44-year-old women being the main audience for this show. It allowed them to reach a mass audience quickly, which was one of their key campaign objectives, and it was within the budget available to broaden their audience. Sponsorship also gives an opportunity for a brand to activate the partnership on social media with new content to share with their audience.


Why RTÉ?

O'Donnells wanted to create stings that were fun, informal and that would make the viewer take notice of the sting. They also needed the stings to fit in with the Grey's Anatomy theme and adapted them so that they fitted seamlessly. The stings needed to be something that the viewer would want to see again and again so humour was an essential element of the sings.

The RTÉ Creative team was able to bring the sponsorship to life by creating a series of sponsorship stings set in a hospital featuring a unique central character, Gráinne. Gráinne was a 30-year-old Resident Surgeon at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital in Seattle. Having survived her intern year, she was well on the way to fully qualifying in her surgical speciality.

But Gráinne already had another speciality that she brought over with her from Ireland when she came to work in the USA: a deep and abiding love of O’Donnells Crisps, and an obsession with Taste Above All Else.


The stings fitted perfectly with the show in terms of setting and tone, with McMoody (the attending surgeon and other main character) delivering the drama. Gráinne's reactions brought the humour which gave the stings great rewatchability. The creative team were able to create a number of variations (4 x 10" and 6 x 7") which prevented wear out.


What was the result?

The campaign delivered on all of O'Donnells objectives, outlined at the start of the campaign.

Brand Awareness grew 19% YoY in Bord Bia's premium crisps report*****. 21% of the respondents to the post campaign analysis thought the sponsorship was a good / very good fit.

In terms of purchase consideration, O'Donnells sales for January to May 2018 were 15.6% ahead year-on-year. O'Donnells also increased their market share year-on-year. In March/April 2018 the brand held 8.6% of the total Irish Crisps market vs 7.2% for the same period in the previous year******.

Sponsorship of Grey's Anatomy on RTÉ2 proved a great way to reach a mass audience in a cost-effective way. O'Donnells reached a total TV audience of 1,052,000 which was 29% of the total universe. They reached 202,000 (30%) of the target audience, women aged 25-44.

They were able to amplify the sponsorship on social media. The O'Donnells Facebook page likes increased throughout January and February when key supporting social media posts were live. The engagement rate increased to 9.2% from an average of 5%.

O’Donnells continues to be the No. 1 brand in the hand cooked crisp market growing year on year and are the 3rd biggest crisp brand on the market.*******

Sponsoring Greys Anatomy allowed the O’Donnells brand to reach a mass audience in a cost effective way. Working with the RTÉ Creative team on developing a storyline and creative for our stings proved to be a seamless process and ensured a smooth creative development & execution. We were really happy with the finished product and even happier with the end results which helped to sustain our position as the No.1 hand cooked crisps brand in the market.

– Kate O'Donnell
O'Donnells Crisps

*Nielsen MAT Nov/Dec 2017
**Bord Bia Premium Crisps Report 2017
***Red C 2018.
**** TGI 2019
*****Bord Bia Premium Crisps Report March 2018
******Nielsen MAT March/April 2018
*******Nielsen MAT Dec 2019