CHICAGO– Honda’s Acura luxury brand spent untold millions of dollars to produce a clever commercial about comics Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno angling to take delivery of the first all-new NSX supercar, which comes to market within three years.

The 60-second spot aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl, which was seen by more than 111 million people, and some 16 million viewers also saw the commercial on the Internet.

“We had 11 million people look at the Acura spot before the game and 5 million looking at it afterward,” Mike Accavitti, Acura’s vice president-marketing operations, tells WardsAuto at a Chicago auto show media event here for the all-new ILX sedan and RDX cross/utility vehicle.

Without disclosing the cost to produce and air the commercial, Accavitti declares the marketing campaign an absolute touchdown.

It’s too early to determine if showroom traffic, or sales, have experienced a spike in connection with the commercial, but Accavitti is convinced this type of attention is exactly what the struggling Acura brand needs.

“We’ve had in the last week two months’ worth of traffic to Acura.com,” he says. “Our website traffic after the commercial aired Sunday night was up 3,000% – so much so that we temporarily crashed our server.”

On Monday, the day after the Super Bowl, the ad served to inspire Acura dealership associates across the country, Accavitti says.

“They were feeling a little bit prouder of the company they work for. We were able to establish, ‘Hey, this is a big stage and we did OK.’ Everyone’s feeling happy about it and feeling good about the brand.”

Critics have panned the commercial for showing the NSX only briefly at the beginning and question Honda’s rationale in advertising a vehicle that won’t be available for at least two years. The RDX and ILX are new products going on sale in the coming months, but Accavitti is convinced an ad campaign built around the vehicles would have fallen flat.

“Do you honestly think 16 million people would have looked at it?” he asks. “It wouldn’t have garnered the attention. The NSX is a wonderful halo car for us, a marketer’s dream. The strategy worked.”

Plus, the latest Internet traffic at the auto maker’s website confirms the NSX’s halo effect over the rest of the lineup.

“At Acura.com we saw significant lifts – 300%, 400%, 500% on every single model,” Accavitti says. “Yes, they came to the site to look at the NSX, but they were also looking at the ILX and RDX, as well as the TL, MDX, ZDX and RL. Everything was off the charts.”

Next year’s Super Bowl is a long way off, so it’s too early to tell whether another high-impact campaign will be in the works, he says

In addition to Leno and Seinfeld, Honda also recruited Matthew Broderick to reprise his Ferris Bueller roll in a commercial for the new CR-V CUV.

Accavitti doesn’t rule out seeing any of the three celebrities in future Honda or Acura commercials. “We have a relationship with them now,” he says. “You never know where our advertising will take us moving forward.”

This year’s formula of creating Internet buzz before the commercial appeared on TV might not be as attractive next year, Accavitti says.

“You always have to change. We were able to stand out this year because of the talent we used and how we launched the spot,” he says. “If everyone rushes to that side of the boat next year, who knows?”

tmurphy@wardsauto.com