Seeking to buttress both its Internet marketing capabilities and personnel roster, Trone Advertising has created a new online specialty company and signed a pair of creative veterans to a unique freelance contract.
The Greensboro, N.C., agency will merge its interactive department with WebClay Corp., an e-commerce company it acquired in April, to create a new autonomous division called Symetri. The unit will service the new media needs of current and future Trone clients.
Ron Jones, who joined Trone from MCI, where he headed an online division, and who has been leading the development of Trone's e-commerce presence, has been named president of Symetri. He currently oversees 18 employees.
"Symetri stands for symmetrical, so our vision is to link the two hemispheres," Jones said. "Our focus on creative and our focus on technology will work hand-in-hand to be the next step of [Trone's] integrated marketing capabilities."
Agency principal Lee Trone said Symetri will seek clients independently. WebClay's accounts, including Siemens and Thomasville Furniture, will continue with the merged entity.
"We've been considering something like this for about a year," Trone said. "Ron's been asking me to do this, and asking me to do it forever . . . Finally, back in June, he came in with a pretty detailed document that said this is the direction we need to go, this is what it's going to cost, this is the people we need . . . It was a great business presentation and he convinced me . . . I told him to go for it."
Separately, Trone has struck a deal with art director John Roberts and copywriter Jonathan Kaler, in what the company terms a "permalance" agreement.
"It's a word we use because they give us about half a week on a permanent basis," said Trone cre-
ative director Stephen Feinberg. "They're based in Charlotte [N.C.], come up once a week in person, then communicate by e-mail and telephone . . . Pretty much anything we touch, they'll work on to make our creative deeper."
Roberts was previously at Charlotte's Elberson Senger Shuler. Kaler last worked on staff at Price McNabb in Greenville, S.C. More recently, he freelanced with New York's Merkley Newman Harty, The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., and Atlanta's BBDO South. K