30 hours of working and still going strooong.— Mita Diran (@mitdoq) December 14, 2013
On Saturday, young Y&R Indonesia copywriter Mita Diran posted a complaint on Twitter: "30 hours of working and still going strooong."
Soon afterward she collapsed. She died the following day.
The social network quickly lit up with condolences, along with messages from advertising staffers urging each other not to overwork themselves and demanding change in the industry. "This is insane -- no campaign is worth this," wrote one Dubai-based Twitter user, adding, "We're not curing cancer, it's just advertising."
It was not immediately clear what medical issues caused Ms. Diran's death, or even if they were related to work, though some local reports blamed her long hours and heavy consumption of a Southeast Asian energy drink.
But the death struck a chord, particularly since it came seven months after a 24-year-old Ogilvy PR staffer in Beijing, Gabriel Li, suffered a heart attack and died at his desk. News reports quickly blamed his death on overwork, though the cause was not clear.
Y&R Indonesia said on Facebook that it closed the office Monday so employees could attend Ms. Diran's funeral.
"Mita was a talented copywriter with a gentle smile who will always live on in our hearts," said the statement from Eny Widayati, general manager of Young & Rubicam Indonesia. "It is a great loss, and we wish Mita's family the faith and strength in each other in going through this extremely difficult time."
The WPP agency said it could not immediately answer further questions.
Details about Ms. Diran's background, including her age and nationality, were scarce. Her LinkedIn profile said she attended college in Malaysia, started working in 2009 and had stints at Malaysian agencies including Cipta Reka Nara and dna360 before joining Y&R in 2012. It included links to a portfolio with work for brands including MINI, Danone and Starwood Hotels.
Ms. Diran's Twitter feed was full of comments – mostly breezy - about her long hours, posted with the tag #AgencyLife.
In October, she wrote: "The more you spend time at the office, the more you consider moving your bed here. Preferably next to the fan." In another post that month, she said: "First day back at work after being sick for three days, and I spend over 12 hours at the office."
Some reports, including one on Malaysian women's lifestyle site www.venusbuzz.com, cited what they said was a post on social-networking app Path by Ms. Diran's father. "She collapsed after continuous working overtime for three days last night. Working over the limit. I have not slept since then." His post was reportedly written while his daughter was still in a coma.
Many commenters said Ms. Diran's death should be a wakeup call about the intense pressure on creatives to perform on short deadlines.
Former BBH executive and Ifwerantheworld.com founder Cindy Gallop tweeted: "This is worst & most extreme example of why our industry must redesign its business."