In a country where cities of 3 to 4 million people are referred to as “small towns,” the marketing scene is quickly blossoming. China is kicking into high gear as it prepares for the summer 2008 Olympics in Beijing. But even a booming country like China has its slumps.

One advertising campaign for a new morning beverage is for Aloe Milk, whose slogan is “U.S. Bull-Puncher Amorous Feeling Beverage.” That doesn’t make sense to either the Chinese or American culture. “Seeing that they didn’t get someone from the U.S. on their marketing team is very interesting,” says Duane DeWald, senior lecturer in marketing at Mays.

DeWald in China
Mays senior lecturer Duane DeWald recently spent seven weeks in China teaching marketing principles.

DeWald returned in July from a seven-week trip to China, where he taught a principles of marketing class to 150 junior-level students at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. He was in demand there, as the university doesn’t currently have a marketing department.

Part of the honors curriculum at Shanghai requires students to take 30 percent of classes in English, since English has become the international business language. The language barrier created some difficulty, as most of the Shanghai students are not yet fluent in English—and Dewald isn’t fluent in Mandarin. “There’s no such thing as a Chinese alphabet. You either know the characters or you don’t. It shows you what it’s like to be illiterate,” he says.

But despite a language barrier, Dewald was able to get a feel for the prospering Chinese culture. Although he has traveled to Europe and taught in Ecuador, Dewald found China most starkly contrasted with the United States. Television commercials are advertised differently than in the U.S. because the Chinese government approves product recommendations. Dewald was also surprised to find commercials giving tips on how to be courteous and polite to tourists, which may have originated with the Olympics in mind.

Dewald’s China teaching experience will carry over to his students here at Mays. “Not only has it given me more material to present to Aggies, but it has changed my teaching style,” he says. “Rather than just trying to encourage our students to work for U.S. corporations, I want to encourage them to branch out—especially to the global scene.”

— Lindsay Newcomer