Now With Dentsu, Elise Mitchell Builds Brands from Broadway to the Ozarks

by Chris Bahn  on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 12:00 am  

Dentsu Network CEO Tim Andree and Elise Mitchell, CEO of Mitchell Communications and now an executive team member of the Dentsu Network, quickly found common ground. (Photo by Ryan Miller)

From there the firm has grown to 74 full-time employees, plus a network of 30 project workers in 16 different states. Mitchell continued to use the model of hiring out of state while building the infrastructure at the home office in Fayetteville. In 2008 the company had 13 employees with $2.1 million in revenue, and by the time of the sale, annual revenue had reportedly grown to $13.8 million.

Mitchell Communications, named Arkansas Business of the Year in the 26-75 employee category in 2010, has gained local and national attention for its rapid growth. Most recently it was named the 2012 Small Agency of the Year by The Holmes Report and was named among Inc.’s fastest-growing companies in 2011 and 2012.

While Mitchell’s decision to sell after several years of rebuffing potential buyers might have been unexpected, the fact the company was highly sought did not catch those who have worked with her or the firm off guard. Procter & Gamble is among Mitchell Communications’ clients, and Associate Director Tim Marrin said he’d been impressed.

“If you don’t know Elise the success and growth might come as a surprise,” Marrin said. “I know Elise. It’s not a surprise.”

Andree became familiar with Mitchell Communications less than three years ago. He was impressed with the firm’s client list and what associates had to say about Mitchell, the energetic CEO.

They talked for the first time last February. Interest accelerated in April. The sale was official on Dec. 31, though Andree said it felt all but inevitable following the first face-to-face meeting with Mitchell.

“When I met Elise I knew probably after the first meeting this was the right one. This is what we wanted to do,” Andree said. “Mitchell was pursued by everybody. It really had to be their decision of who they wanted to join.”

‘Tremendous Potential’

Mitchell announced the decision to her staff on Jan. 2. She outlined then what the transition would mean for them, laying the groundwork for Andree’s recent visit to northwest Arkansas.

Andree met with members of the Mitchell Communications leadership team on Jan. 15 and then held a town hall-style meeting with all staff the next day. He wanted to introduce himself and answer any questions employees might have.

What will change for Mitchell Communications? Not much, Mitchell and Andree said, other than the reach the company now has thanks to the Dentsu Network roster of companies and its 6,000 clients worldwide.

Andree said the plan was to change little, noting it has always puzzled him why competitors would purchase firms only to change the way business is done within their new acquisitions. That kind of strategy “destroys the value,” he said.



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