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 Tuesday, June 17, 2008 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Selling tea to China challenges advertising students
by Beth Gaeddert, director of career services and external affairs, School of Journalism & Mass Communication

The School of Journalism & Mass Communication (SJMC) took tea to China in May 2008 during an intensive, three-week advertising course at Shanghai International Studies University (SISU).

Senior Instructor Mindy Kiger Cheval and Associate Professor David Slayden, head of the CU advertising sequence, taught all aspects of U.S. advertising to 50 students and 10 advertising professionals. Boulder’s Celestial Seasonings tea was used as a practice client. “Professor Slayden and I thought it would be interesting to give the students of SISU a project that would challenge cultural norms as well as build on their advertising skills,” Cheval said. “The students’ first response was 'you can't sell American tea to the Chinese, this will not work.’ After a couple days of work they solved this branding problem is several unique ways."

Some chose to launch Celestial Seasonings using some non-tea aspects of the brand and positioned it as a diet or wellness drink. Several groups decided to take their tea culture head-on and positioned Celestial Seasonings as a tea for the "new" China. “In all cases, the students provided us with interesting insights into their culture and the rapid changes occurring in China,” Cheval said.

“The school is always looking for innovative ways to advance relationships with top universities around the world, and this advertising workshop seemed like just the right program for the right partners,” said journalism Dean Paul S. Voakes. “It has helped open doors to what I hope will be more substantive academic relations with our new colleagues in Shanghai.”

The journalism school’s connection to the university in Shanghai began in 2006 when Professor Meg Moritz was invited to give lectures at four leading universities in China as part of her appointment as CU's UNESCO chair and the faculty director of international graduate education. Professors and administrators from three of the Chinese schools visited the SJMC and as a result Cheval was invited to present the Maymester advertising certificate program at SISU. Moritz also arranged for two visiting junior scholars to be in residence on the CU campus in the fall of 2007, one in the SJMC and one in the English program. Another junior scholar from SISU will visit the CU School of Law in the fall of 2008.

Moritz also recruited a graduate of Communication University of China, who is now in his second year of the SJMC Ph.D. program, and arranged for a master's student to carry out her professional project on revival of the Jewish community in Shanghai while in residence at SISU.

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