Executives familiar with the talks said the acquisition is all but complete. ISI would become a separate division of Bozell, operating independently.
ISI's top executives didn't return calls last week; Michael Palmer, Bozell's group executive-diversified services, who is heading up the talks for the agency, said it was premature to comment.
Mr. Palmer did note that ISI and Bozell "have mutual clients, like Nobody Beats the Wiz, and we cooperate together."
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young, an ISI client, has been among the celebrities to wear a "milk mustache" in Bozell's print campaign for National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board.
Bozell's interest in ISI reflects its broader interest in sports. Recently, Bozell started a sports practice within its public relations division.
However, the perception within the sports marketing industry is that the practice hasn't had much impact and, in fact, has had to struggle to get acceptance within the Bozell network.
How the practice would work with ISI remains unclear.
Bozell would like to broker endorsement deals between its roster of clients-which include Chrysler Corp.'s Jeep division-and athletes ISI represents.
DISNEY LINK IS ATTRACTIVE
ISI also is attractive because of Disney; ISI is the sponsorship agent for the new sports complex at Walt Disney World.
ISI, based in East Rutherford, N.J., is said to have been courted by other ad agencies as well. Its principals are veteran sports marketing executives Frank Vuono, Fred Fried and Steve Rosner. It also specializes in corporate consulting,