Recently, Sherwin-Williams, the large Fortune 500 paint company that has been around since the 1800’s fired an employee. 

Normally, this wouldn’t be newsworthy. Companies fire people all the time, especially during this climate. 

However, they fired this employee after he offered them 3.6 million dollars. Why would they do something so stupid you ask? Well, I’ve been asking myself that same question since I heard the news. 

paint cans on table

Anthony Piloseno, a college student, worked at a Sherwin Williams store in Athens, Ohio part time. He fell in love with the job right away.

In Tony’s own words “I loved the job immediately, I love how colors blend together, what goes with what… It’s hard to explain, but I really enjoy mixing paint. I like showing what stuff it can do.”

Those of you who have managed people will know that it is rare to find employees that are truly passionate about their jobs, especially part-time employees. 

Tony enjoyed mixing paint so much, that he started a Tik Tok page dedicated to his new passion. His page went viral and currently has over 1.2 million followers. 

Tony then started looking at his page as a marketing opportunity. He saw it as a way for Sherwin Williams to present their product to a younger demographic through Tik Tok. He saw it as a way for Sherwin Williams to create brand awareness. He created a pitch and presented his case to the store manager.

The manager loved the idea and directed him to the marketing department. Here’s where it all started to go wrong for Sherwin Williams. 

After waiting two months to get a response, the marketing department responded that there was no need to even review his presentation as there were no promotions going on at the time. 

They were presented with a way to use 1.2 Million social media followers to market their product. 

And the marketing department Never. Even. Looked. At. It. 

After this, the company started to receive calls about mixing custom paint colors (this should have been a HUGE hint)

As opposed to seeing this for the opportunity it was, the company saw this as noise and a nuisance. The loss prevention department contacted Tony and he was ultimately fired for using company products for personal use and filming Tik Toks while on the clock. 

To clarify, Tony bought all the paint used in his videos using his employee discount. But yes, he did film personal videos while on company time. So going “by the book” the company was within their rights to terminate him. But when has doing everything by the book ever lead to creative change? 

Painting of berries with paint tubes and brushes

The average engagement rate for an account of Tony’s size is 4.99%. Which means, roughly 60,000 people are invested in every single post. If half of these people were inspired to buy Sherwin Williams paint because of one of Tony’s posts, that would be 30,000 people. 

The average cost of a gallon of paint is between $15 – $40. We’ll meet in the middle and use $20. 

30,000 people buying even one gallon of paint would equal $600,000 of sales to Sherwin Williams. 

But who only buys one gallon of paint? The average square footage of a home in America is 2400 sq ft. You need 1 gallon for every 400 square feet. So that’s 6 gallons of paint. 

30,000 people buying 6 gallons of paint at $20 per gallon is $3.6 Million dollars. 

This story is a prime example of the power of social media to market your brand. Anthony Piloseno took a boring topic like paint, found a creative way to present it, and found 1.2 MILLION people that were interested. 

This is also a great example of how limited and outdated thinking will see you left behind. Social media marketing is critical to the survival of any business. It is the new word of mouth advertising and any company not investing in it will be left in the dust. I’m no economist, but don’t be surprised if Sherwin Williams and other companies who reject social media marketing go the way of Blockbuster video. Oh you don’t know what that is? Exactly. 

You can see Anthony’s amazing work here! 

Artwork used in this blog:

Jacqueline Day on Unsplash

russn_fckr on Unsplash

Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash