The Tyne and Wear Metro network is in the running for a national award for marketing following passenger numbers hitting their highest level for five years.
The Chartered Institute for Marketing has named Metro staff as finalists for its prize for team of the year.
They will be up against household names such as Direct Line, Standard Life and O2 for the accolade.
Their marketing campaigns, featuring a Metro cube character, have highlighted the value and convenience offered by Pop smart cards and student and season tickets to passengers using its 17 North Tyneside stations and others elsewhere on the network.
The award nod for Metro management firm Nexus and operator DB Regio comes after passenger numbers topped 40 million in 2015, up 13 per cent over the last two years and at their highest since 2011.
The Metro also achieves the highest possible rating for value for money from marketing campaigns, according to official Department for Transport ratings.
Kerry Leng, marketing manager for Nexus, said: “One in every eight passengers is new to Metro in the last two years.
“We have invested in attractive and innovative marketing campaigns to help make Metro the fastest growing light rail system outside London.
“Nexus is a public body and makes no profit from Metro, but every new passenger helps support the cost of running the service while underlining how vital it is to the local economy.”
David De Ivey, marketing controller for DB Regio, said: “We’re delighted to have been nominated jointly for this award. To ensure the money we spend on media was used as efficiently as possible, we utilised emerging new technology to reach our target audience in their homes, tailoring messaging to speak to distinct groups of potential Metro customers.
“This approach was aligned with our overall strategy to boost awareness of the brand, which we achieved by taking a number of high-profile digital advertising sites on the main arterial routes in the region.”
Metro ran its first television adverts for over a decade last summer, introducing the new Metro cube character.
Institute acting chief executive Chris Daly said: “We’ve seen some fantastic entries this year, and it is already clear that this will be a great representation of our industry’s hard work over the past 12 months.
“The finalists are varied, innovative and showcase a range of high-quality campaigns.”