Bozell’s Donovan and Mickelsen Retire

April 24th, 2024

Marketing and advertising mavericks led storied agency into new millennium, positioned Bozell for ongoing success into the future

Robin Donovan and Kim Mickelsen – the two marketing and advertising gurus who led Bozell to new elevations over the past 23 years – have officially retired and capped their careers at the storied agency they helped save in 2001.

“It’s hard to imagine two more respected and honored marketing professionals who have had as much of an impact on marketing and advertising in the Midwest over the past 23 years than Kim and Robin,” said Jackie Miller, now CEO, who joined Mickelsen and Donovan as co-owners of Bozell in 2016.

In addition to Miller, Laura and Andy Spaulding will also continue as owners. Laura Spaulding, who has been with Bozell since 2006, has been named President. Andy Spaulding, who joined Bozell in 2017, has been named Chief Operating Officer. 

Caretakers of an iconic brand

Founded in 1921, Bozell (later Bozell Worldwide) has contributed to American pop culture with campaigns for the likes of American Airlines, Taco Bell, Jeep, Verizon (Can you hear me now?) and many other well-known brands. Campaigns like the “Milk mustache” and taglines like “Pork. The other white meat” and “Rich, Corinthian leather” have helped shape Bozell’s legacy over the past century.

In 2001, amidst the dot-com bubble burst, Interpublic Group of Cos. Inc. acquired Bozell, triggering office closures. To prevent the Omaha office’s shutdown, Donovan, Mickelsen, and two long-since-retired partners bought the founding office along with the company name. Despite adversities like 9/11, the dot-com bubble, the Great Recession, and a global pandemic, Donovan and Mickelsen expanded Bozell’s regional footprint and maintained the agency’s national and global position as a widely respected full-service company.

“Kim and I always considered ourselves caretakers of the Bozell name and brand,” Donovan said. “Now it’s our turn to hand over the reins to another group of caretakers – a group we know can take Bozell to even greater heights.”

The philanthropic tradition

Throughout their tenure, Donovan and Michelsen exemplified Bozell’s mantra, “You must pay rent for the space you occupy on earth,” not just through their professional achievements but also through their dedication to philanthropy in Omaha.

Their leadership helped shape Bozell’s identity, guiding it through challenging times while maintaining a focus on providing exceptional service to clients. “One of my favorite philanthropic projects we did was our ‘Free Ad Day.’ We set aside a full 8-hour workday where our entire staff created 111 distinct pieces of work – ads, logos, media plans, book covers, everything. The work was shared in real-time via social, and it turned out to be one of the coolest projects,” said Mickelsen.

A legacy of embracing change

There is no way Mickelsen and Donovan could have maintained Bozell’s award-winning status without changing. While the agency’s past is rich with successful case studies, it’s difficult to grow and be innovative without embracing change. And under Donovan and Mickelsen, Bozellers not only embraced change, they kissed it on the lips.

Today, “embrace change” continues to be one of Bozell’s core tenets, thanks to an atmosphere that spurs innovation and change. Under Mickelsen’s and Donovan’s guidance, Bozell developed a new, proprietary platform called 360 Listening that helps clients better understand their target audience by cross-referencing insights from search, social and news listening.

An end, and a beginning

The departure of Mickelsen and Donovan, who served as Bozell’s CEO and President, respectively, marks the end of an era but also signals a new chapter in the agency’s journey.

“While we will miss their insight, we are excited about the future of Bozell,” said Laura Spaulding. “We are continuing a long-standing tradition of Bozell as an industry disrupter with changes we’ve made to our service structure, which was born out of the pandemic.

“COVID flipped our lives upside down, and returning to a new normal just didn’t sit right. We’ve always been about embracing change at our core, so why not seize the moment to address the challenges head-on and revolutionize our approach to business from within?”

With demands increasing while resources dwindle, alongside the chaos of media consumption and the relentless 24/7 news cycle, it was clear that Bozell needed a fresh way to collaborate. Emerging from the COVID-19 era, the landscape shifted – and so did Bozell.

“We’ve turned the page on traditional industry practices – no more endless negotiations over budgets, no more billing by the hour for every meeting, and definitely no more unnecessary delays,” said Andy Spaulding, “Once again, Bozell stands at the forefront of marketing and advertising, thanks to our innovative membership model.”

“The best part is, our clients are genuinely thrilled, and they have embraced this evolution. It signals a bold step forward for Bozell, and we’re ready for it,” Miller added.



About Bozell: Founded in 1921, Bozell is an Omaha-based full-service marketing and communications agency. Knowledge, drive and a relentless appetite for new challenges define Bozell and its people, who are the agency’s biggest asset. Bozell creates strategic, omnichannel campaigns that generate serious results for its clients, and after 100 years in business, Bozell continues to empower those who aspire to change the world.