Ogilvy Philippines confirms employee death

Passing of Mark Dehesa reignites debate about industry work pressures.

Ogilvy Philippines confirms employee death

The death on Sunday of Mark David Dehesa, a brand strategist with Ogilvy PR, has led to an outpouring of grief, as well as speculation by some that overwork may have contributed to his death.

Ogilvy Philippines issued the following statement, attributed to chief executive 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.

To be clear, at this point there is no direct evidence that overtime work played a part in the tragedy. An Adweek report quoted an unnamed former colleague as saying Dehasa worked long hours last Friday preparing for a meeting, before asking to be taken to a hospital.

Commenters online, however, certainly made the connection. For example, a Facebook post by Jeff Stelton, a copywriter, reads in part:

But 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 9am presentation when you finished work at 4 in the morning. 

Stelton later edited his post to say he did not mean to imply that overwork was "solely" responsible for Dehesa's death, and that he was merely citing the experiences of himself and friends in the industry.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Dehesa joined Ogilvy in May 2016, following stints at Publicis, J Walter Thompson, Harrison Communications, Proximity Philippines and BBDO Guerrero.

This is the second death of an Ogilvy Public Relations employee in recent years that has been tied—correctly or not—to overwork. In 2013, Gabriel Li, a 24-year-old member of the company's technology team, died in the company's Beijing office

Among tributes to Dehesa, Facebook comments also connected his death to the suicide of a Dentsu employee in Japan last year, which ultimately led to the resignation of chief executive Tadashi Ishii and changes to the company's overtime policies.

Dehesa's social-media profile pictures

A version of this story was published first by Campaign Asia-Pacific.

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