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)

Because Dentsu Network wants to keep the value of Mitchell Communications intact, the firm will remain headquartered in northwest Arkansas. There will likely be Mitchell Communications offices nationally and internationally in the relatively near future, and Mitchell will travel, but Fayetteville will continue to be the home base.

Keeping operations based in the Ozarks was key, Mitchell said. And it was something Andree was more than willing to do given Mitchell Communications’ success over the years. He sees “tremendous potential to grow” from Fayetteville, he said.

That played heavily into Mitchell’s decision to sell. She declined suitors in the past because the fit wasn’t right.

Despite opportunities that didn’t pan out, Mitchell said, she felt obligated to listen whenever someone inquired about buying the company. Typically it became apparent early in conversations that the flirtation wasn’t going to become serious.

The more Mitchell and Andree talked, the more right the fit seemed. Not only did they find common ground in operating philosophy — chief among them a client-first approach and a commitment to digital media — but Mitchell also was intrigued by the prospect of making an impact globally and building on that wide open, green field.

There was a comfort level with Dentsu, but Mitchell was still debating whether to sell.

Dentsu Network “is a perfect mirror image for the way Mitchell is. Even still, I didn’t know if I’d want to sell,” she said. “Except that the chance to build something from scratch does not exist in our industry today except here. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our team to be able to be a part of that, and for me as a leader to help lead and build that blueprint in our industry.”

Mitchell Growth

Mitchell Communications has grown by nearly 500 percent since 2008. It built a roster of clients including Wal-Mart Stores and Sam’s Club, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt, making it a target for larger companies trying to build a public relations brand. Dentsu Network purchased Mitchell Communications on Dec. 31. Here’s a look at how the company has grown since it was founded nearly 18 years ago:

1995 - Mitchell Communications established by Elise Mitchell as a sole proprietorship, implements virtual employee model.

2005 - First full-time employees hired by Mitchell Communications.

2008 - Company begins a period of rapid growth, reports $2.1 million in revenue and 13 employees.



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