Erik Nicolaisen, the VW man
EIGHT months ago, Erik Nicolaisen was busy running his small hand-painting mural business in his hometown of Portland, Oregon.
Today, the American patois-speaking actor in Volkswagen's Super Bowl 2013 commercial is the toast of Jamaica.
"This is totally a surreal experience. This doesn't happen just by being associated with a commercial... ever. I think it's the perfect storm of a good fit with a well-written commercial, a fantastic director in Tom Kuntz and a winning campaign," said Nicolaisen, 33.
He arrived in the island on Monday to shoot a series of Jamaica Tourist Board promotional videos for a Jamaica Mi Happy campaign and is expected to leave the island this weekend.
His ties to the island run deep, as his sister is married to a dreadlocked Jamaican and his last visit here was in 2002.
"My schedule this time has been wicked... I've been going non-stop," he said. "I've been to some iconic attractions... Dunn's River Falls and Mystic Mountain and I've stayed in some beautiful places. It is such an amazing experience."
The Super Bowl ad, entitled "Sunny Side", stars Nicolaisen as an optimistic man from Minnesota with a Jamaican accent who spreads cheer to his frustrated co-workers.
"No worries, man. Everything will be alright," he tells them in the ad.
He eventually resorts to taking his co-workers for a spin in his Volkswagen Beetle which lifts their spirits, while Jimmy Cliff's version of the Patridge Family's C'mon, Get Happy plays in the background.
"I've been doing commercials since age seven or eight and studied acting at the University of Oregon," said Nicolaisen, who is married with a son and has another child on the way.
"The recent VW commercial has made me more marketable," he beamed.
Nicolaisen said speaking patois "was challenging", as it did not come naturally.
"But I did the best I could with the accent," he said. However, his affinity to the German-made Volkswagen brand came easily and naturally.
"I've been driving a VW Passat TDI for the last 10 years," he told Auto.
His VW Passat TDI sedan boasts a 1.9-litre engine and pushes 128 brake horse power. It can travel from 0-100 kilometres in 9.9 seconds and can reach speeds of 208 kilometres per hour (120 miles per hour).
And, how is it performing?
"Yeah, mon. Everything thing 'criss'," he responded.