The Apple commercials that really stood out for me in 2012 came off as either defensive or too cute for their own good. Take the iPhone 5 ad in which Apple showcased its 4-inch screen by having a thumb touch all the corners. Subtext: “See, you don't need a big-screen phone.” Then there's the iPad mini ad that has a finger playing “Chopsticks” on the full-size tablet before moving onto the smaller one. It's a clever way of showcasing that the iPad's little brother can do everything the big one can, but it also feels too safe.
Samsung's ads, in particular, have more of an edge, such as the one in which a mom and dad queuing up for an iPhone 5 ask if this is “the line for apps.” Yes, this came off as defensive too, but even Apple fans had to laugh. In my favorite Samsung commercial, for the Galaxy S III, a wife shares a naughty video with her hubby just before he heads off on a business trip. It demonstrates a unique feature with a risqué vibe. Apple has a reputation as a cleaner, more family-oriented company, but it wouldn't hurt to inject a little more attitude and swagger into its marketing. Perception becomes reality after all.