November 20, 2020

"They FIRED YOU?? It's 2020 and companies still don't understand the benefit of digital/social marketing."

Commented one fan, quoteed in "A College Student Behind A Massively Popular Paint-Mixing TikTok Page Was Fired From Sherwin-Williams/Tony Piloseno even used his wildly successful and viral TikToks as part of a digital marketing pitch to the company to appeal to younger members of Gen Z" (Buzzfeed). 

From the employer's standpoint, Piloseno was "in violation of several gross misconduct policies" because he'd "used company tint machines... for your personal use." But he had over a million followers of his TikTok videos that fascinated people with paint mixing, and he'd made a pitch to them about doing viral marketing.

Now, Sherwin-Williams has passed up the opportunity and hurt their own brand. If you got excited about paint colors through Piloseno, you might buy paint and specifically avoid Sherwin-Williams. And yet, companies can't allow employees to use the machines for personal creative projects, can they? You can't have TikTok shoots happening randomly throughout the workplace. 

36 comments:

Dan from Madison said...

Well, they are both right. From a workplace standpoint it could be a liability nightmare. But from a marketing standpoint could be gold. But policy is policy and if his handbook stated that this was not allowed, the company has to enforce it, or the next employee starts using bar-b-que grills for tik tok, or power tools, etc.

StephenFearby said...


Logopedia has an interesting historical record (beginning in 1893) of Sherwin William's now decidedly politically-incorrect "Cover the Earth" logo.

"This is the original logo designed by George W. Ford in 1893, which it was nicknamed as "Cover the Earth" logo. The can spilling paint over the earth depicts Sherwin-Williams as an aspiring and rapidly expanding company. This logo was in circulation along with the [conceived in 1885] Chameleon logo until 1905."

"The initials of the company were added to the paint can in 1905. This logo replaced the Chameleon logo and it has been used officially by the company since then."

https://logos.fandom.com/wiki/Sherwin_Williams

Wilbur said...

I had to look up why the Sherwin-Williams logo is "politically incorrect". The first result (https://organizationsandmarkets.com/2008/05/11/politically-incorrect-company-logos/) said:
"A paint can dumping red ooze over the planet’s surface — you can’t get more politically incorrect than that! There’s even a tagline, “Cover the Earth,” in case you miss the point. In today’s environmentally sensitive age this logo is the Anti-Green. It screams: synthetic, industrial, man-made, unnatural."

He seems to be poking fun at the notion, but apparently some people are actually offended by it. I just don't get it.

I'm be painting my house this winter, and I'll make sure to use Sherwin-Williams paint, just to piss off anyone offended by the logo.

jaydub said...

What exactly would Gen Z do with paint? Graffiti on boarded up store fronts?

TreeJoe said...

This is so simple. Unless the now ex-employee refused ALL offers by SW, they should have simply appended his employment agreement/job description to include these functions.

How fucked up do you have to be as a company to have an employee PROMOTING YOUR BRAND in interesting and wide reaching fashion but because he's seen as using some company property to do it - against an employee handbook policy - you fire him rather than amend his personal responsibilities to now include using company property to promote company brand on social media.

Michael said...

HR strikes again.

DEEBEE said...

That the kind of small ball thinking of higher up, the people presume to be our betters, that made IBM make Microsoft possible.

Expat(ish) said...

Oh, boy, once he admitted to using industrial machines off the clock and unsupervised he was doomed. Lawyers.

There will quietly be some other people getting fired plus a lot of retraining.

Also, maybe I missed it, but at what point did this kid offer to turn over his version of the company’s IP to the company? If any of that TT account was done during working hours then it’s most likely a WFH product.

-XC

FleetUSA said...

Seems like HR and the lawyers are running the company. Bad policy. The CEO might not of even known what was happening.

iowan2 said...

Sorry, I'm stuck in snark mode for some reason.

And yet, companies can't allow employees to use the machines for personal creative projects, can they?

That is 100% correct. VERY reasonable. Not at all controversial.
Explain it the woke athletes (NFL,NBA,etal) and other performers. Free expression in not controversial. Stealing product from your employer, and exploiting their reputations for personal purposes is wrong. Not racist.

As far as this, its a balancing act. While going viral falls under the category of "there is no such thing as bad publicity". While a calm examination of each event should always be the case, "listen to experts" has taken over corporate decision making process. For some reason HR has inserted themself into almost every decision. They are kind of like that joke about the body organs arguing which is the most important. After several make their case, the Asshole says all else shuts down at the will of the asshole.
I think its bad business to encourage employees hoping to somehow make the company logo go viral.

WK said...

The company I work for encourages employees to use social media to engage with customers and potential customers. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. But the policies I have read seem pretty vague about what they may not like. So I don’t do much company promotion at all. An occasional like of something our marketing posted. Some of my counterparts think the “tweets are my own” tag will cover them but I doubt it.

On a side note, we painted our house inside and out a couple years ago. My wife complained about the price of the quart size samples and how many we needed to try/buy. She now manages a paint sample lending library and we have over 500 Sherwin Williams sample quarts in our basement you can borrow through Facebook. Likely need a hazmat team when we move.

Rob said...

I remember a cop explaining to a drunk who had vandalized a place that he’d violated the Sherwin-Williams Act.

tim maguire said...

Would it kill them to have a social media policy that created an opportunity for employees to incorporate company assets into their media personalities? Arms length enough for deniability if it goes wrong, but cooperative enough to allow for mutually beneficial uses like this one.

Kevin said...

The Chinese are certainly getting their money’s worth.

boatbuilder said...

I’m sure Benjamin Moore will be happy to take him on...

Wince said...

"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," Piloseno said. "He basically told me that there wasn't really any promotions going on so there wasn't a need to see the presentation."

There were "no pomotions going on", huh?

Marketing Director, Retail Communications
Sherwin-Williams values the unique talents and abilities from all backgrounds and characteristics. ... Manager, E-Business Operations • Cleveland, Ohio.

The average Sherwin-Williams Director of Marketing earns an estimated $145k.

The average salary for Digital and E-commerce Marketing Director at companies like SHERWIN WILLIAMS CO in the United States is $196600.

4 Sherwin Williams Digital Marketing Manager jobs in United Sherwin-Williams. Greater Cleveland. The Lead IT E-Commerce Project Manager is responsible for directly managing large, cross-functional infrastructure ...

Sherwin Williams employs Digital Business Partner, Paint at their Cleveland, Ohio ... We are seeking a Digital Marketing Business Partner (BP) to be a trusted ... This role reports to the Director of Digital Marketing. Support e-commerce retailer strategy, including promotional support...

Meghan Vickers - Sr. Director, E-Business - Sherwin-Williams responsible for E-Business and Digital Customer Experience at The Sherwin-Williams Company

Gordon Blickle - Director of Marketing, Sherwin-Williams and
Director of Marketing, Sherwin-Williams and Valspar Brands

Sue Wadden is Sherwin-Williams director of color marketing for The Paint Stores Group. As the color expert, she is responsible for the company's overall ...

Randy Kerans - Marketing Director - Sherwin Williams |

Jeff Winter - Vice President Marketing - Sherwin-Williams

Joel Wasserman - Senior Director of Marketing, Paint Brands at Sherwin-Williams.

Patricia Macko - Director of Brand Marketing at Sherwin Williams.

Justin Brazie - Director of Marketing- Applicators & Decorative Products at Sherwin-Williams Paints.

Brian Taylor Vice President Marketing at Sherwin-Williams. Sherwin-WilliamsPace ... "Paints & Coatings"

Wince said...

Reads to me like "turf" protection.

Ralph L said...

Speaking of covering the earth, this brings to mind The Yarkand Manner, except that that intelligent office boy is still employed in his industry.

alan markus said...

I have a vision that somewhere in the archives of what is left of SEARS Corporate there is perhaps an early 1990's email or written memo where some young person suggested that they put their entire catalogue in a digital format, make it available on line for people to look at, and allow customers to use their computers to order products.

Perhaps the email was never opened - this would have been the time when "real executives" did not touch a keyboard - it would have been up to a secretary to print it out and give it to the executive.

If the executive did actually read or hear the suggestion, it was most likely dismissed because computers were just a passing fad, of no interest to the customer base that gave SEARS momentum since the late 1800's.

My vision is also that the young employee eventually moved on to a successful career at AMAZON.

alan markus said...

Consider the plight of the poor Tik Tock guy that made a video while drinking cranberry juice while skateboarding to a Fleetwood Mac tune.

Ocean Spray went after him for displaying their product without authorization. Fleetwood Mac made Tik Tok disable the sound.

Just kidding:

Ocean Spray bought him a new truck in the appropriate color of cranberry red. It was delivered to him packed full of jugs of the brand's juice.///"To some extent, it was a lovely accident," Fleetwood said. "It could have been any song, but it was ours. For us bunch in Fleetwood Mac, the inspiring thing was that it was just so off the wall. Did we expect it? No. Are we happy and delighted? Absolutely."
The two met for a video chat recently.

Michael said...

BTW: Both Sherwin and Williams are buried in Cleveland's Lake View Cemetery, A "must see" if you are ever in the city. Not only beautiful, but filled with so many notables: Elliott Ness, Alan Freed, Ray Chapman (only player ever killed in pro baseball game), plus scores of entrepreneurs from the industrial age: John D Rockefeller as well as founders of Western Union, Plus the inventors of traffic lights, gas masks, hydraulic brakes,Salisbury steak, arc lights, etc.

The murdered President Garfield has a massive monument there. Climb the steps to the top of the Garfield Monument for a stunning panoramic view of the city and Lake Erie.

rehajm said...

Sherwin-Williams has passed up the opportunity and hurt their own brand

It's a bad precedent. Branding is tricky and consumers are fickle. As a company you need to keep a handle on things. One employee has some 'success' and suddenly there's scores of employees with their own disparate ideas mucking things up.

Sounds harsh? Let's try a little experiment with the Althouse blog. I've got some GREAT ideas...

stlcdr said...

As we have seen, companies cannot get associated with any line of socio-political activity - even if it seems innocuous - and need to nip it in the bud.

Unknown said...

Tide show show the young'uns how to mix up
delicious pods

BADuBois said...

When I was a young lad I was promised flying cars and moon bases for the 21st century.

And this is what we got instead.

MadisonMan said...

we have over 500 Sherwin Williams sample quarts in our basement you can borrow through Facebook. Likely need a hazmat team when we move.
In Madison, at least, you can drop it off for $10.
We had scads and scads of unfinished paint containers in the basement, some left behind by the previous owner (Added: NEVER agree to this is you're moving into a house!). One day I completely loaded up my little car with paint cans, took them to the dump, paid $10, and offloaded everything. That felt good.

sinz52 said...

Sometimes, a company has no vision about creative ideas their employees or users come up with, that might in the long run actually improve the company's value.

As an old Star Trek fan, I was disappointed in how Paramount went after all the ordinary folks who had created Star Trek fanfiction YouTube videos, on the grounds of copyright infringement. The fans didn't create those videos to rip off Paramount, but to show their continuing interest in Star Trek.

Paramount has never accepted that all the Star Trek conventions and fanfiction helped sustain interest in the Star Trek franchise even in the years when there were no officially produced Star Trek movies or TV series. So when new movies and TV series were produced, Paramount had a ready audience for them.

Bunkypotatohead said...

Couldn't they have just instructed the employee to stop doing that?

Charlie Currie said...

DIYers go to Home Depot and Lowes - professional painters go to Sherwin Williams. This will have no effect on them, one way or the other.

PM said...

"Get that goose outta here. We sell real eggs, not gold ones."

Biff said...

rehajm said..."It's a bad precedent. Branding is tricky and consumers are fickle. As a company you need to keep a handle on things. One employee has some 'success' and suddenly there's scores of employees with their own disparate ideas mucking things up."

You sound like an adult who has experience with being responsible for people other than yourself and for things other than your own personal property. Unfortunately, it seems you are out of step with the times.

Rabel said...

He was using company resources for his personal benefit without authorization.

That's theft.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

This reminded me of the following story:

“Henry Ford’s reaction to a consultant who questioned why he paid {note, this was in the 1930s} $50,000 a year to someone who spent most of his time with his feet on his desk. “Because a few years ago that man came up with something that saved me $2,000,000,” he replied. “And when he had that idea his feet were exactly where they are now.”

So, I don't know what his contract with Sherman Williams was. But I see no inherent reason why they could NOT have a contract that lets him do what he was doing, with the cost of what he was doing charged to the advertising budget.

I don't care enough to look into it deeply, but the decision does not look like a "slam dunk" to me. I'm pretty much withe @TreeJoe on this one

n.n said...

Did the virtual success convert to real sales?

Caligula said...

When I worked for a certain Very Large Company, the place one went to get parts to build engineering prototypes was known to all as "the gift store."

There is a sort of balance here: employees should be encouraged to use company resources for creative projects if the cost of doing so is insignificant (or even if it isn't, if the work can be shown to be valuable); it's good for both Company and Employee that they do so.

Nonetheless, companies need to retain fiscal control over company resources. Which means accounting for what is used and who used it and what it was used for, for without reasonable controls there will inevitably be massive abuse/diversion of these resources.

Because, people are not angels. And when word gets around that there is a de-facto "free store" many of those who have not been helping themselves to the "free stuff" will feel like chumps if they don't do so. And then they're all too likely to join in.

Josephbleau said...

If you substitute Drug company for Paint company do you get a different answer?