PROFILE: Buzz words - Tony Camacho, Commercial director, Buzz

I don’t envy Tony Camacho. First, he has to work at Stansted Airport. Second, he has just launched the UK’s latest budget airline brand into a sector that makes the Northern Ireland political scene look friendly.

I don’t envy Tony Camacho. First, he has to work at Stansted

Airport. Second, he has just launched the UK’s latest budget airline

brand into a sector that makes the Northern Ireland political scene look


Before it had even launched, established budget carriers EasyJet, Go and

Ryannair had trashed Buzz for being a ’paint job’ by parent KLM; for

being the ’next Debonair’ (the carrier that went bust last October); and

for ’flying the wrong planes to the wrong airports’.

Today, however, Camacho seems unflustered. Sitting in Buzz’s modern

offices, a few hundred yards from the Stansted runway, he is determined

to stay out of the mud-slinging between EasyJet and BA’s style-conscious


The 36-year-old son of a Portuguese entrepreneur is the third

30-something, foreign-named marketing chief in the sector.

But, whereas EasyJet’s Stelios Haji-Ioannou is a thrusting Greek

playboy, and Go’s commercial head David Magliano enjoys Soho media

patois, it is airline fuel that runs through Camacho’s veins.

A KLM employee for more than a decade, he has climbed the slippery pole

from check-in assistant to chief marketer for KLM UK, Buzz and its

fledgling ’wings’ alliance, which includes Continental Airlines among

others. Small and smartly turned out, Camacho is soft-spoken and


He is keen to position his carrier in his own image - honest and


’David Magliano may be better at deconstructing a brand but when it

comes to network planning, the heart of airline marketing, I know my

stuff,’ he says.

’You can have the sexiest brand in the world but unless you’re flying to

the right airports in the right destinations, then you’re dead.’

But Camacho remains brand-conscious. ’As more carriers come into the

market, their routes will overlap, making people study the offerings

more closely.’

As the new boy, Camacho feels he has an advantage and a


’We have learned a lot from existing players in terms of low fares, high

volume and rigorous cost control, and the need to avoid the low-value

experience offered by some. On the other hand, it is difficult to raise

our brand awareness quickly in a crowded market.’

Camacho is spending more than 10% of Buzz’s turnover on marketing. He

heralded its service last year with a pounds 3m ad burst through WCRS

and another pounds 2m at the beginning of this year. All ads use cartoon

characters and use the strapline: ’Buzz - three people had an idea’ (to

convey the company’s entrepreneurial spirit).

Go’s Magliano quips: ’Yeah - those three people were Stelios, Barbara

Cassani and Michael O’Leary (Ryannair). Buzz copies everything we


But Camacho believes Buzz has a USP. He is keen to court the

cost-conscious business traveller. Unlike Go, Buzz flies to principal

airports at mainly business destinations, such as Frankfurt. He has also

made great play of its ’pay-as-you-go’ extras geared to businessmen,

such as pounds 10 entry to lounges at all destinations and optional

meals. Ultimately, he would like dedicated parking for frequent flyers

and to eliminate check-in altogether.

Camacho is concentrating on internet and direct mail to hit businesses

with annual travel budgets of less than pounds 50,000 a year. His

agencies are fond of him and attest to his suitability for the task


Jonathan Rigby, board account director at WCRS says: ’Too many clients

are scared and restrained by politics, but Tony is refreshing. He

doesn’t come with any preconceptions. You can send him an idea by e-mail

any time and he deals with the issue immediately.’

Trevor Pettit, executive creative director at Buzz’s direct agency

Carlson, agrees: ’He’s a non-bullshitter with a straightforward, robust

point of view. He takes in all opinions then makes his own -


Camacho is in his element moulding the new brand. ’I’ve felt a bit

constrained working for a blue-chip company. I always saw myself doing

my own thing.’

In time, he’d like to concentrate purely on Buzz. He sees potential in

extending the brand into WAP phones and other web services. ’We were

born in the dotcom era and we can become an internet brand,’ he


Such brand-stretching aside, Camacho is under no illusions about


’I must get the airline into the black. We’ve said this will happen by

the end of our third year in operation. Within six to nine months I

should find out whether this is possible.’

This will be the acid marketing test and should be viewed against a

decidedly uneven track record for budget airline brands. While Ryannair

and EasyJet are profitable, Go made a pounds 20m loss during its first

17 months. And Debonair and AB Airlines have bitten the dust.

It could be that Camacho’s feet-firmly-on-the-floor approach is spot on

and Buzz will smoothly ascend into profitability.

’Tony will never be a ’personality’ in the Stelios mould,’ says WCRS’

Rigby, ’He will always let his work speak for itself.’

However, Camacho and his purple-suited colleagues may soon find

themselves drawn into the fray. In this aggressive and closely

scrutinised sector, there will be little room for shrinking violets.



Reservations and ticket office agent, Air France


Sales and creative market roles, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines


Marketing manager KLM, UK & Ireland


Marketing director, KLM and Air UK

1999- present

Commercial director, Buzz

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