Creative director calls on industry to respond to the death of Mita Diran with common policy on work-life balance


Elrick: an industry-wide response is needed

One of the region’s top creative directors has called on the leaders of the big agency groups to respond to the death of Y&R Indonesia creative Mita Diran by agreeing on a common industry policy on work-life balance to ensure the tragedy does not reoccur.

The young copywriter allegedly died from a combination of overwork and the excessive consumption of energy drinks earlier week.

Before her death, she tweeted that she had been working continually for 30 hours.

Steve Elrick, the former Asia Pacific executive creative director of BBH, wrote in a post on Mumbrella’s Facebook page: “I would have thought some kind of industry response to this horrible news would be in order?”

“Would it be too much to ask for at least the agency heads of the main networks in Asia to get together and agree to have some form of policy ensuring that these work practices are seen to be in violation of their own corporate/human resource guidelines – as I am sure they MUST be, already,” he said.

Mita Diram

Mita Diran

“Coming out and publicly stating it from the top would give the most junior and powerless employees at least a base from which to air their worries/grievances and hold the big companies to account if they continue to preach one thing, and practice another,” Elrick added.

“Come on regional heads of WPP and Publicis Omnicom agencies, together you could set the standard for 80 per cent of the shops in Asia – what on earth could be stopping you?”

WPP-owned ad agency Y&R has offered its condolences to the family of Mita Diran on Y&R Indonesia’s Facebook page, but has yet to respond to Mumbrella’s questions on how Diran’s passing reflected the company’s HR policy for work-life balance. The agency has said that it was too soon to comment, and that the company was still in shock over the news.

Facebook post about Mira Diran's deathA number of posters in social media have suggested that Diran’s employer should be held accountable for her death. One poster wrote on Facebook: “Y&R should be prosecuted. Along with her managers for not taking care of her.”

One of the region’s top planners has also suggested that clients should be part of an industry review on work-life balance.

Rob Campbell, Asia strategy director at ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, said on Mumbrella’s Facebook page:  “It would also be interesting to get clients to do this given there are situations where they knowingly place unrealistic expectations and demands on their agency partners.”

“Of course situations happen, but so do bad attitudes and planning. So while the agency heads should stand up for their people in uncalled for, extreme situations, it should be something that the broad industry accepts and tries to do something about,” he said.

Mita Diran’s death comes just six months after the passing of Chinese PR executive, Li Yuan, from Ogilvy who suffered from a heart attack, believed to be related to the stresses of overwork.

The week after Li Yuan’s death, a former head of the Australian office of Korean agency Cheil Worldwide spoke out against the “oppressive” work culture that exists in Korea. “Junior staff are unable to go home until their senior does (regardless of finishing the tasks for the day) or they are seen as uncommitted to their job,” he said.

Read an opinion piece written by Steve Elrick on how the industry should respond to the death of Mita Diran here.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing