Another Ogilvy staff died while working overtime, sparking debate on a hot issue

Another Ogilvy staff died while working overtime, sparking debate on a hot issue
Photos of Mark David Dehasa from his social media accounts.

Renowned advertising and public relations company Ogilvy PR comes under unwanted spotlight again after one of its employees died while reportedly working overtime despite suffering from pneumonia.

The death of young brand strategist Mark David Dehesa of Ogilvy Philippines on Sunday (Feb 19) reignited a testy debate about overwork at certain agencies in recent years following the deaths of young workers.

Dehasa's death sparked an outpouring of grief, as well as speculation by some that overwork may have contributed to his death, although no direct evidence has suggested this, reported AdWeek.

Confirming his death, Ogilvy Philippines issued the following statement, attributed to CEO Elly Puyat: "It is with great sadness that we confirm the sudden passing of our colleague Mark Dehesa from complications leading to pneumonia on Sunday February 19, 2017. Mark was a much loved and important member of our family in the Philippines, and our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and friends at this very difficult time."

While the statement did not touch on any link between his overtime work and his death, Adweek reported an unnamed former colleague as saying Dehasa worked long hours last Friday to prepare for a meeting, before asking to be taken to a hospital.

Responding to the untimely passing of yet another young colleague, former Ogilvy copywriter Jeff Stelton minced no words when he said "it's time we say no to this unnecessary martyrdom".

But enough is enough, he felt.

He added: "It's time to say no to getting up for a 9am presentation when you finished work at 4 in the morning. It's time to say no to coming in to work the next day to finish another requirement when you were in a 26-hour shoot. With that being said, it's time to say no to 26-hour shoots altogether."

Stelton reportedly later edited his post to say he did not mean to imply that overwork was "solely" responsible for Dehasa's death, and that he was merely revealing the experiences of insiders in the industry.

This is the second death of an Ogilvy employee in recent years that has been cited as connected allegedly to overwork. In 2013, Gabriel Li, a 24-year-old member of the company's technology team, died in the company's Beijing office.

In the same year, a woman who worked as a copywriter for Young & Rubicam in Indonesia reportedly died after working 30 hours at a stretch.

Online comments on Dehasa also connected his death to the suicide of a Dentsu ad agency employee in Japan in 2015, which led to the recent resignation of CEO Tadashi Ishii and changes to the company's overtime policies.

chenj@sph.com.sg

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