Words by Jesse Serwer, Photo by Beth Lesser—
In the spring of 2010, with Vybz Kartel’s “Clarks” reaching peak rotation levels, I published a story in The Guardian tracing the long-running connection between the iconic British footwear brand and Jamaican music. With reports of Clarks-driven robberies and rampant bootlegging coming in from Jamaica, the company’s spokespeople admitted to me that a surge in sales of Clarks Originals seen at the time might have had something to do with the popularity of Kartel’s tune. The next step seemed obvious. Clarks, which has been active in forging connections to other music scenes, sponsoring live events and other partnerships, would tap Vybz Kartel and Popcaan, and launch a big campaign around its base in Jamaica.