Most companies today understand the power of social media. They’re everywhere–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
Entire marketing departments are dedicated to figuring out what makes people, especially young people, spend their hard-earned money.
But as Tony Piloseno learned the hard way, not every large company knows a good thing when it’s waving in their face.
On his first day on the job at the Sherwin-Williams store in Athens, Ohio, Tony found his calling.
You don’t even have to watch his TikTok videos to realize that this guy got very lucky.
But let’s watch another one anyway.
An Ohio University student taking on a part-time job, he instantly found something to appreciate.
As he told Buzzfeed:
“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.”
Usually a company would consider such an enthusiastic employee a valuable asset, especially in an hourly or service industry role.
Tony loved mixing paint so much that one day when business was slow, he decided to make a TikTok video showcasing his passion and teaching people about the paint-mixing process.
The video was successful, so he kept making them, set to music, under the handle @tonesterpaint.
He quickly developed a following. Apparently Tony wasn’t the only one fascinated by the art and science of mixing paint.
Ranging from thousands to tens of thousands of views, his sixth video ever, which doesn’t even show what’s happening inside the paint can, was extremely popular.
Tony quickly realized that he had a powerful marketing tool at his fingertips.
But instead of keeping it to himself, he tried to share it with his colleagues at Sherwin-Williams.
Here was a young man so loyal to his company and profession that he put together a proposal for the marketing team in his free time.
He told them about his TikTok, hoping they would see the same opportunity he did to “develop brand awareness” aimed at a new demographic.
“I emailed [the marketing contact] about two or three times, I even reached out to him on LinkedIn. It took two months to get a response from him. He basically told me that there wasn’t really any promotions going on so there wasn’t a need to see the presentation.”
That’s when the trouble began. Despite his 1,000,000 + followers, Tony wasn’t cashing in on the videos. If anything, he was promoting new interest in paint and paint-mixing to potential new customers.
But apparently that was not the kind of attention the company wanted. According to Sherwin-Williams, a customer even complained.
They started an investigation. Then, they looked at Tony’s TikTok.
And then they fired him for misusing company property. According to a statement from Julie Young, the VP of Global Corporate Communications, who responded to a request for comment from Buzzfeed:
“While we don’t discuss the details of employee matters publicly, what I can tell you is that we were made aware of the TikTok videos produced by Anthony Piloseno through a customer complaint. We take all complaints seriously and thoroughly investigated the customer’s concerns. Following the investigation, Mr. Piloseno was let go in July 2020 due to multiple Company policy violations.”
Or maybe they were just upset about blueberries.
His termination papers cited “gross misconduct” and even being an embarrassment to his employer, as well as theft of property and abusing facilities. As Tony explained:
“They first accused me of stealing — I told them I purchased all my paint… [and] There was never anyone with me while I doing it.”
What’s next for Tony?
The video that he posted when he was initially fired has already been viewed more than seven million times.
Although he initially made his videos using the equipment at his workplace, losing his job didn’t slow Tony down.
His outraged followers were relieved to discover that he continued making videos in a friend’s basement, and even outside.
He’s got plans. Big ones:
“I bought myself a light box. I bought some empty gallons at Lowe’s — I basically started shopping at Lowe’s afterward… I’m working on making a logo.
I just bought a domain name to make my own website.
I’m hoping to sell my own merchandise and my own paint colors.”
And that’s exactly what he did, taking his domain and brand name, Tonester Paints, from his TikTok handle.
He even made good on his promise to sell his own merchandise and paints!
I hate that he got fired for doing what he loves, but it’s pretty inspiring to hear about someone so young pursuing his passion.
It kind of makes me want to go buy some paint.