MUMBAI: The appropriateness of a brand tie-in to a new film is less important than the amount of publicity that can be generated ahead of its release, leading industry figures in India have suggested.

"Today, only 15-20% of brand tie-ups are actually relevant to the target audience, the brand communication and brand DNA," Navin Shah, joint managing director of EMC Solutions Worldwide, a branded entertainment solutions firm, told Livemint.

He was speaking after characters in the popular Indian comedy show Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah appeared in bright blue paint as Smurf ambassadors, ahead of the recent release of The Smurfs 2.

The logic was to widen the appeal of the film beyond English-speaking children who already knew about the Smurfs and to reach a Hindi-speaking audience with the dubbed version.

"This is a sustained effort to build audiences for the (Hollywood) animation franchise," declared Divya Pathak, director of marketing at Sony Pictures India.

A more obvious link was that between Amul milk and the recent sporting biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, based on the life of Indian athlete Milkha Singh. But the fit of Getit Infomedia as the official search partner for the movie was less clear.

"While both brands have derived some value from the association, assuming that the cost of association is the same, one (Amul) has derived more value than the other," said Shah.

"If it is a good fit, then there is a multiplier effect for the brand, as the association is memorable and likable, and therefore more impactful," he added.

The aim of brands in these cases is threefold – getting the implied endorsement of the stars, piggybacking on the success of a hit film and breaking through the clutter of communication.

But while filmmakers are careful what brands they associate with in the months preceding a launch, that reticence disappears as the release date nears.

"Any publicity is good publicity, to ensure that the film is on top of the consumer's mind," said Shah. "At that time a brand can help, even if the association is not relevant."

Data sourced from Livemint; additional content by Warc staff