Two Way Weighing Buyers’ Bids

Interactive agency Two Way Communications here is the subject of negotiations that will likely lead to its acquisition.
Daryl Travis, president of Arian, Lowe & Travis, the ad agency that helped bankroll Two Way when it was formed in 1996, said the 25-person interactive shop has received overtures “from everywhere,” but that a deal is most likely with one of three bidders.
Travis said a deal could be closed soon, but declined to identify the potential suitors. According to sources, the shop has been contacted by Chicago-based multinationals Leo Burnett (majority owner of the Giant Step interactive shop) and True North Communications (parent of Modem Media and TN Technologies), but more serious bids may be coming from outside this market.
Major interactive agencies on the East and West Coasts “want to enter Chicago, and Two Way is a good route” for doing that, said one source close to the negotiations.
Part of Two Way’s appeal is its client list, which has included several companies in the healthcare and pharmaceuticals industries–business categories that are growing rapidly in advertising expenditures. In less than three years, Two Way has developed a client roster that includes health-related companies Bayer Corp., Pharmacia & Upjohn, Hoechst Marion Roussel, Home Access Health, Tillotson Healthcare Corp. and the Viaticus unit of CNA Insurance Cos. Other clients include online grocery delivery service Peapod Inc., Platinum Technology and Riedell Shoes.
Two of Two Way’s three founding partners–president Bob Gear and executive vice president Paul Bryant–previously developed interactive programs for Abbott Laboratories. The third, executive vice president Geoff Melick, helped launch the McCann Interactive unit of McCann-Erickson in 1991. Former Burnett vice chairman Jack Kraft serves as a strategic adviser.