COVID-19

GulfNews World

COVID-19: EU must be united over Russian, Chinese vaccines, says French minister Beaune

Europe|: Paris: The solidarity of the European Union would be impacted if countries in the bloc chose Chinese or Russian COVID-19 vaccines which have not yet been approved, French European Affairs minister Clement Beaune said on Friday. “If they went to choose the Chinese and/or Russian vaccine, I think it would be quite serious,” Beaune told RTL radio. “It would pose a problem in terms of our solidarity, and it also poses a health risk problem, because the Russian vaccine is not yet authorised in Europe. A demand for approval has been made but it is not yet authorised in Europe, and no demand has even been made yet for the Chinese vaccine,” added Beaune. Already approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has already been approved or is being assessed for approval in three states in the EU bloc’s eastern wing - Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic - as delays hamper vaccination programmes across the EU. The EU’s drugs regulator has begun reviewing the Russian shot for possible approval. Polish President Andrzej Duda has also talked with Chinese leader Xi Jinping about buying the Chinese COVID-19 shot, his aide told state-run news agency PAP on Monday, although Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said on Wednesday he did not currently recommend the vaccine due to insufficient data. The European Commission said on Thursday that there were no talks under way about buying Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

GulfNews Business

Advertisers and their partners need to be on same page with their service contracts

Analysis|: The Emirates had been a commercial hub for the region long before even its formation as a country. It’s business conditions, multilingual population and ease of connections made it the destination of choice for the headquarters of multinationals. Support industries also established themselves here – among them the marketing services and advertising industry. The COVID-19 has had an impact on almost every sector, meaning advertisers are being far more prudent with marketing investments. In fact, ad spend in the region fell by up to 20 per cent in 2020, according to WARC. Therefore, justifying and accounting for every dollar spent is ever more essential. Marketing budgets are now spent with an increasing variety of marketing agencies offering everything from media buying to creative development to handling influencers. Two aspects have to be managed carefully by these advertisers: • Are the agency services and costs clear and justifiable? • Is the advertiser paying the agreed cost? What about the discounts agreed to? There can be a disconnect between what is agreed and what is actually paid or recouped, particularly in multi-year, multi country contracts. Since many of the largest advertisers are headquartered in the UAE, they invariably want their strategic marketing agency partners to be based here too. To give marketing advice, but also manage and implement projects at a country level. This is especially true when it comes to creative agency networks. Local understanding is particularly relevant, whether in terms of dialect, or to ensure that a localised look-and-feel are achieved. Read More UAE's facilities management industry needs immediate help Personal finances could always do with a 'deep cleaning' Localisation comes with layers While a marketing campaign may be developed in the UAE for multiple Middle Eastern markets, getting the degree of localisation required without appointing suppliers in each market means the regional advertiser just has to brief its UAE-based agency, which can then subcontract jobs to a local partner or an affiliate. As with creatives, several print management companies have their headquarters in the UAE to service brands’ regional needs. They offer a one-stop shop handling all the production of high-volume materials, for everything from supermarket stands to countertop displays and printed material. They will also manage the logistics around the region with a single payment option. This allows advertisers to consolidate spend with one company, which manages the buy, in a similar way to how media agencies offer a single point-of-contact to buy advertising inventory. No agendas, please But there is the risk that transparency suffers and advertisers must ensure that third-party agency selections are not to a closed pools of bidders, to push up commissions. Media auditing to ensure media buying agreements are being kept is essential – but the same scrutiny of contracts is needed across marketing services. As the touchpoints between brands and consumers grow, more channels and suppliers are involved. And because most advertisers operate across multiple countries, there is the added layer of complexity. With increasing investments and layers come the risk of erroneous charges, misapplied mark-ups and commissions, and a lack of transparency in selection and use of third-party suppliers. Compliance checks Ensuring brand guidelines are adhered to, identifying the intermediaries used and avoiding foreign exchange variances means extra vigilance and control is required. This will make sure quality is maintained across all assets and that any related relationships remain fair. Advertisers need full transparency in who these sub-contracted partners are, to ensure their brand’s reputation is protected. After all, if things go wrong, it will be the brand’s name making the headlines for the wrong reasons, not the local supplier. Working in the current unusual business conditions means keeping a close eye on contract compliance. For marketers and procurement teams to be able to demonstrate to finance that their marketing investments are getting a fair return and avoid the dreaded annual budget cut, an audit is often the best way to start. Marketing and media auditing needs to extend across relationships with multiple suppliers to ensure full transparency. Be it media, creative, digital, sales promotion, event management, PR and more, the contracts agreed are a bond of trust. Scrutinising the compliance of contracts and making ongoing corrective actions improves the relationship between advertiser and supplier. The best business relationships require – above all else – that those involved deliver on their promises. And it is within the contract, that those promises are laid out. This is why contract compliance is vital for both ongoing and future relationships. And the checks and balances to abiding by the agreements are determined by auditing. - Stewart Morrison is Managing Director - MENA at FirmDecisions.

GulfNews World

COVID-19 origin probe debate heats up

Asia|: Washington: The controversy over the investigation organised by the World Health Organisation and China about the origins of COVID-19 heated up as a group of scientists called for an independent probe to consider all hypotheses and nail down whether the virus came from an animal. A group of more than 20 signatories said in an open letter published by the Wall Street Journal that the existing mission isn't independent enough and demanded a new probe to consider all possibilities over the origin. Half of the joint team are Chinese citizens whose scientific independence may be limited, they said. The criticism comes as the mission considers delaying an interim report, which was expected soon. The investigators may instead publish that summary statement on the same day as the full report, a WHO spokesman said. The organisation expects to have clearer ideas on future studies and missions needed around key hypotheses once it has received the full report and will discuss the next steps with member states, he said. Speculation rejected Last month, the mission rejected speculation that the coronavirus could have leaked from a lab and said instead that it may have jumped to humans through an animal host or frozen wildlife products. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus later said the United Nations agency hasn't ruled out any hypotheses. The WHO has faced criticism since the outbreak of the pandemic that it's been too deferential to China. Former US President Donald Trump advanced the theory that the virus might have escaped from a high-security virology lab in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus was first detected. The mission followed months of negotiation with China. Stung by criticism that they initially covered up the extent of the crisis, Chinese state media and officials have promoted the theory that the virus didn't start in the country, but was brought in. The scientists who signed the open letter included the lab scenario among the possibilities. Signatories include Steven Quay, chief executive officer at Atossa Therapeutics Inc., which develops treatments for breast cancer and COVID-19, while Jamie Metzl, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, co-organised the letter. None of the signatories were members of the WHO-backed mission. China reaction China's foreign ministry said Friday in response to a question about the open letter that there had been top Chinese experts on the WHO team that went to Wuhan to look into the virus's origins, and that China hoped other nations could cooperate on similar inquiries. "This open letter by the scientists you talked about, whether they are making suggestions out of professional attitude or they're politicising the issue and making the presumption of guilt, I believe they know this very clearly," foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily briefing in Beijing.