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Samsung: Bashing Apple works

Samsung's head of marketing in Australia says that when the company launched ads mocking Apple fanboys, it was "a tipping point." He loves seeing fanboy wars.

Silly, silly fanboy. Samsung/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

When you're faced with someone who wears their cool on their sleeve and knows it, one option is to grasp their hem and genuflect.

Another is to laugh at their bloated self-importance.

This was the attitude adopted by Samsung, as it attempted to drop an insulting firework into Cupertino's trousers, then point and giggle.

Who can ever forget the mockery of Apple-loving baristas, with Samsung begging them to break free?

Given that Samsung has continued to accuse Apple users of being anything from sad to old, you might imagine this strategy worked.

Now, Samsung is admitting that it did and that it loved watching what happened.

My sudden reading of Australia's AdNews brought me several delirious quotes from Arno Lenior, Samsung's head of marketing there.

Speaking of Apple-picking, he said: "That really did mark quite a tipping point for us globally. We were able to tell a cheeky story -- if you think about it, we're a Korean company starting to really mess with the order of things."

But surely this was like mocking a global church. Wasn't Samsung afraid that it was performing a sacrilegious rite?

Not at all. Samsung wanted to create a fanboy fight and it adored having ringside seats.

Lenior explained: "You've got fanboys after fanboys going 'You can't put that out there,' and then the Samsung fans saying 'Yes, you can.' And they're starting to have that conversation, which is brilliant."

What clouting Apple brought to Samsung was an identity. Up to that point, the brand image had, according to Lenior, been "a bit blank."

Now, he said, though Samsung still sees itself as a challenger it's always part of the conversation, if not sometimes the actual brand leader.

What some might forget (or merely choose not to admit) is that Samsung tweaked with humor. Just as Apple brilliantly made Microsoft looked greasy and sweetly doltish with its "Mac vs PC" ads, Samsung often (but, as Lenior himself admitted, not always) managed to raise a laugh.

This might be held up in contrast to Microsoft itself, which has rarely found the humorous touch as it tries to keep itself in the conversation by leaping on alleged Apple inadequacies.

Still, for Samsung, the tension between global and local will remain. Its abject launch of the Galaxy S4 in New York, which enjoyed all the humor of surgery by garden shears, still sticks in more than one epiglottis.

Soon, a brand will come along that will mock Samsung. Indeed, earlier this year a Lumia ad mocked the whole Apple-Samsung fanboy fracas.

One day you're the comedian, and one day you might be the joke.