FORTUNE -- Ken Segall worked with Steve Jobs for 14 years, during which time he put the i in iMac and found the thread that links Albert Einstein and Amelia Earhart. But though he no longer works as a creative director at TBWA/Chiat/Day, Segall is still keeping a close eye on Apple's (AAPL) marketing efforts on his Observatory blog.
And he doesn't like what he's been seeing.
"Apple's advertising history is as famous as its products," Segall wrote Monday after the Oscars. "But something's changed. While you can still argue that Macs and i-devices have a ton of appeal, you can't argue that Apple is still untouchable when it comes to advertising. The fact is, it is being touched — often and effectively — by none other than Samsung."
But Samsung is willing to outspend Apple (and everyone else), and it's found a message that has proven to be, according to Segall, tremendously potent.
"The company continues to bash away at Apple, delivering ads that are well produced, well written and seem to be striking a nerve.
"In contrast to Apple, which has been sticking to its product-based ads, Samsung has been scoring points with its people-based ads — most of which play off some growing negative perceptions about Apple...
"On this first day after the Oscars, there's some buzz out there about the [new iPad] ads. But for the first time ever, Apple is struggling to get its share. Samsung continues to gain momentum, thanks to its double-barreled approach of creativity and big spending.
"I imagine Apple is feeling a bit like Obama after his first debate with Romney. It deeply believes in its ideas; it just needs to express them more forcefully.
"There are too many smart people at Apple and Chiat to take this lying down. I expect to see Apple do exactly what Obama did. The stakes couldn't be higher, and it's time to recalibrate."
Samsung has been teasing Apple on TV. The latest iPad ads don't rise to the bait.
FORTUNE -- Samsung has been having some fun at Apple's (AAPL) expense lately, mocking iPhone line-sitters and hiring Hollywood celebrities to crack wise about trademark lawsuits.
Did Apple rise to the bait?
It did not. At least not in its first post-Superbowl iPad commercials, "Together" (above) and "Alive" (below).
Apple seems to be sticking its knitting, planting a MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 18, 2013 4:52 AM ET
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