In May of 2002, the Big Ten administrators and women's basketball coaches discussed methods of how to increase attendance in women's basketball and to once again establish the Big Ten as the nation's leader in attendance.
The conference was asked to research and create a marketing/public relations campaign with the goal of increasing women's basketball attendance in the upcoming years. The Big Ten also worked with university marketing directors to successfully launch the SuperFan campaign and to also maintain institutional "buy-in" and support. The tactics developed included, but were not limited to, the initial media release, promotional tips to schools for unified "campaign look," and artwork and ad designs.
The SuperFan campaign allowed each institution within the conference to publicize its women's home basketball games using marketing tools provided by the Big Ten. Throughout the women's basketball season, schools were encouraged to use the customized materials from the SuperFan kit, including a 30-second television public service announcement (PSA), logos, posters, ads, radio PSA scripts and more, to promote home games. The kit also consisted of helpful tips and ideas for promoting the SuperFan program across campus and within the surrounding communities.
The conference provided financial support to each of the its member institutions to allow the schools to target selected basketball games to promote. Additionally, the league announced that it would recognize the institution that sets the highest attendance increase with a trophy, giving schools a competitive goal.
Since the inception of the SuperFan campaign, Big Ten women's basketball attendance has been at an all-time high.
Michigan State was presented with the first-ever SuperFan Cup. MSU generated an astounding 77 percent increase for home attendance, earning the inaugural SuperFan Cup and bragging rights in the Big Ten. MSU hosted 70,017 fans on the year, 30,372 more than in 2002.
In 2003-04, Purdue was named the recipient of the second annual Big Ten SuperFan Cup in recognition of its marketing and promotional campaign that helped boost women's basketball attendance during the 2003-04 season. Purdue ranked second in the nation last year for increased attendance and fifth in average attendance as in 12 home games in 2004, the Boilermakers averaged 10,105 fans per game, which amounted to an increase of 3,051 per contest from 2002-03.
In 2004-05, Ohio State increased its conference home game attendance by 81.9 percent. The Buckeyes welcomed an average of 7,259 fans to eight league contests, compared to the 2004 eight-game average of 3,991 patrons per outing. In 2004-05, the Buckeyes shattered the Ohio State (13,320) and Big Ten (17,142) single-game attendance mark in the final home game of the season, when OSU sold out Value City Arena with 17,525 fans.
This past season, Illinois earned the coveted SuperFan Cup. With an average of 3,468 fans over eight conference home games, the Fighting Illini increased its attendance 71 percent after posting an eight-game mark of 2,034 patrons per outing over the 2004-05 campaign. The Illini hosted five crowds in 2005-06 conference action that were larger than its best turnout from the previous year, when they played Wisconsin in front of 3,056 fans.