A Global Classroom: Neal Burns in China

“What Starts Here, Changes The World,” is etched into the fabric of every Longhorn’s time at the University. It’s also something that’s easily observed at the Moody College of Communication.

Dr. Neal Burns, Director of the Center for Brand Research and Professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, chatted with Texas AdGrad about his November travel to China to deliver a weeklong lecture series on branding and the changes in cultural advertising and digital technology.


After being invited by Professor and Vice Dean of the South China University of Technology, Duan Chunlin, Dr. Burns took a little of the 40 Acres with him and decades of agency experience as he ventured to Guangzhou, the third largest city in China.

During his lecture series, Burns touched on topics like positioning and branding, social networks, uX and collaborative consumption, and the impact of web-delivered content on traditional media.

When asked if presenting to an audience of a foreign language was tough, he mentioned he was thankful for the support he’s received.

“I have lectured in China, Japan and Taiwan over the past couple of years,” he said. “I’m fortunate in that one of our Asian grad students has always been available to help produce notes in their language or a full translation.”

In addition to his lecture, Dr. Burns visited advertising agencies and was amazed to see how we seem to be the ones who think the world is flat and that it ends off the shores of New York City and San Francisco.

“The importance of global advertising, the presentation of the brand in Calcutta, Munich, Beijing and L.A. is more of a topic of concern there — than here,” he added. “Yet, the American agencies, schools and our students are the ones that seem to have the process and what we have to offer is in demand.”

Dr. Burns is at the forefront of research that points to something many advertising and public relations students are learning- a Yelp! review resonates more with a consumer than 15 seconds on television. What your friend thinks about the service at the barbershop down the street has more influence than the flyer they handed you. This is happening in a global scale.

“Global is real,” Dr. Burns added. “It’s a fascinating time and a fascinating business.”

Staff Writer