Edenvale resident Steve Johnston’s viral #ItsMeSteve T-shirt idea is now being used to help the community. Proceeds from the sales of official #ItsMeSteve merchandise will be shared amongst the less fortunate to help alleviate the hardship caused by Covid-19.
Johnston says his idea for his ‘Its Me Steve’ homemade shirt was an attempt to maintain his identity, stay social from a distance, and a light-hearted defiance of the necessity of having to wear face masks. ‘The real campaign is around the masks’ ability to hide our smiles and mute our non-verbal communication. Covid-19 masks steal our biggest social asset: our smiles, that’s why I especially chose a photo of myself with a fat, cheesy smile.’
Johnston’s post (below) was a dig at the ‘ridiculousness’ of the list of clothing items that were for sale and those that were restricted that was published in the government gazette. ‘Don’t get me wrong, I am proudly team SA and will do whatever it takes for the greater good, so I was not mocking lockdown, I was having a go at Covid-19 and some of its effects.’
Johnston thought the joke was in the text, not the T-shirt. However, the picture went viral without the associated caption. The exact shirt Johnston was wearing went on sale in the USA within about 48 hours. ‘It all started as a joke, and it is incredible how fast this has spread and how many pieces have fallen into place,’ he said.
Johnston says he has learnt an incredible amount about social media in a short space of time. ‘If I could do it all again, there is so much more I would have done. I found it very difficult to get help from local sources on how to manage a spontaneous viral post. So I am now working with a team of people in Fourways, Holland and Scotland. We have some expertise here, but people in Europe and the USA really know how to react to this kind of thing, and just seem to be light years ahead in their understanding of it.’
‘I am not in the T-shirt industry, nor am I proficient with social media, but as this thing began to grow, so many people pointed out that I had a voice, and the voice would probably die out as fast as it started, so I needed to act quickly. I did not plan to do a ‘campaign’. It was just a joke that erupted, and now we are having some fun with it, and hopefully we can do some good.’
So how does Johnston feel about his post going viral? ‘Thank goodness it’s for the right reasons, namely humour and a fight back against the virus. It combats the virus’s ability to take away our smiles and has a little dig at some of the sillier things our politicians have said and done, so I feel great about it. I hope it makes people laugh and I hope it sells a few T-shirts to help with Covid-19 relief.’
‘Stay safe, stay back, but stay social. Find a way to smile from behind your mask – just find a way,’ he concluded.
Click here to order your #ItsMeSteve T-shirt.