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Agency overwork issue comes to the fore again after Ogilvy employee death in Philippines

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By Charlotte McEleny | Asia Editor

February 24, 2017 | 3 min read

An employee of Ogilvy in the Philippines has died and reports are suggesting that overworking led to complications around pneumonia, ultimately leading to his death.

The reports bring up a very recent debate around this issue, after Dentsu in Japan found itself amid government investigations around the alleged ‘karoshi’; suicide of an employee that was also overworked. The news culminated in chief executive Tadashi Ishii stepping down from his role at the start of this year.

According to a report on Ad Week, brand strategist Mark David Dehesa had been working late working on a project ahead of a meeting but had to go to hospital, at which point he sadly died.

Ogilvy

Ogilvy employee death linked to overwork

The report quotes colleagues of Dehesa who have publicly called on the industry to take action against allowing staff members' lives and health to become so negatively impacted by overworking cultures.

It quoted a Facebook post by Ogilvy copywriter Jeff Stelton, who said people work to the point of poor health because there’s a sense of martyrdom: “with the untimely passing of yet another young colleague, I feel like it’s time we say ‘no’ to this unnecessary martyrdom. It’s time to say no to getting up for a 9 a.m. presentation when you finished work at 4 in the morning.”

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Dentsu has, since it became public that overwork had led to its employees death last year, taken some steps from an organisational-level to curb this. It has cut the hours that the office can be open and is looking at other ways to improve culture. Despite this, many remain skeptical that this will change very quickly in Japan as it’s very much engrained in the culture of work broadly in the country.

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