Dentsu acquires Mitchell as it enters PR space

NEW YORK: The Dentsu Network has acquired Mitchell Communications Group in the Japanese company's first step in building out a PR network of its own.

NEW YORK: The Dentsu Network has acquired Mitchell Communications Group in the Japanese company's first step in building out a PR network of its own.                              

Mitchell Communications will retain its Fayetteville, AR, home office, as well as its 75 full-time staffers and 28 project-based employees in 14 states. It will also continue to use the Mitchell Communications brand name.

Agency president and CEO Elise Mitchell will remain in her position as chief executive, and she will take on the dual role of CEO of Dentsu's global PR network that she will help to build. Sarah Clark, EVP and chief strategy officer at Mitchell, has been promoted to president.

“The reason that we joined the Dentsu Network is that we wanted to accelerate our growth and expand our capability to better serve our clients,” explained Mitchell. “We saw this as a great opportunity to continue to get better at doing what we do and to be able to really build out on a national and global scale.”

Mitchell will report to Tim Andree, CEO of Dentsu Network. While she will remain based in Arkansas, Andree said she will have an office in New York so she can work with clients from either location.

Andree declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal, but said the acquisition is only the beginning of Dentsu's efforts to develop a global PR function.

“We're building our PR function pretty late,” he added. “Most of the other holding companies have built themselves out, and we hope that will make all the difference because we plan to make sure that it gets done in ways that is not about scale and scope, but about quality and connectivity and built-in integration with the other communications functions.”

Dentsu's PR expansion plans may come from acquisition, growing operations within its other firms, or extending Mitchell's brand, Andree explained.

Mitchell added that she and Andree have an “exciting vision” for the global network, and they will be looking for like-minded agencies to become part of the unit.                                            

A driving factor behind the Mitchell acquisition is Dentsu's deal to buy London-based media firm Aegis for $5.1 billion, which should be wrapped up by the end of this year after regulatory approval. Andree said the holding company could not acquire Aegis without being able to offer PR and strategic communications services. 

“Our whole goal is to be as seamless as possible for clients,” he added.

In 2002, Dentsu formed an alliance with Publicis Groupe, but at the beginning of last year, Publicis president Maurice Levy ended the partnership by buying back most of the stake.

Mitchell Communications' revenue in 2011 was more than $11 million. The firm works with brands including Walmart Stores, Sam's Club, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree Hotels, Procter & Gamble, JB Hunt Transport, Tyson Foods, and Southwestern Energy. 

This story was updated on January 4 to note that the firm will continue to use the Mitchell Communications name and to link to previous story on Dentsu's acquisition of Aegis.

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