By Adam Wakefield

Carpenter has been creative director at Accenture Interactive in Cape Town since November last year. Being part of Accenture Digital and the wider Accenture group means Carpenter and Accenture Interactive have access to services and skills that traditional creative agencies do not.

“As the digital industry changes, we’re seeing that brands need a new agency model, a partnership that can create digital customer experiences at a scale and speed that traditional agencies just can’t deliver,” Carpenter says.

“As a digital creative, I want to be part of what’s being called the ‘fourth industrial revolution’. I want to work with the brands that are connecting humans to things, building remote services and developing artificial intelligence. Working at Accenture Interactive gets me closer to all that amazing innovation that really will transform the world.”

Carpenter’s career trajectory saw her work in London between 1999 and 2007, before moving to South Africa and settling in Cape Town. Asked if she feels South Africa’s digital advertising industry is behind their overseas competitors, Carpenter notes that it really depends on how the word “behind” is defined.

“I don’t think we’re behind. How can we be behind when we have an amazing, diverse population that uses digital solutions for day-to-day problems, and a bright creative industry that has ideas to help them?” Carpenter poses.
She argues that the local industry’s overseas counterparts do not face the same kind of real-world issues compared to South Africa, do not have to take into account 11 official languages and do not have the same kind of societal complexities and hardships.

“To produce successful pieces of work in this environment is tough, but that doesn’t make our industry any less creative, innovative or inventive,” Carpenter says.

She does, however, point out that South Africa is not “keeping pace” when it comes to winning awards internationally; “For example, at the Cannes Lions in the Cyber and Mobile categories. I believe there are a number of reasons for this; firstly, traditionally South African creative colleges only focus on above-the-line training and so the designers and copywriters that graduate believe that a creative career can only be built in an advertising agency.”

Secondly, despite better return on investment, measurable results, and the ability to iterate on campaigns as they are running, marketing departments in most corporates in South Africa still, in Carpenter’s opinion, undervalue digital as a supporting channel, leading to inadequate budgets.

“Thirdly, digital is complex, fast-evolving and often requires huge teams and months of work to produce something truly special,” Carpenter explains. “To win at Cannes, in any of the digital categories, is far harder than writing a witty one liner on a press ad. You need a brave client and a brave team to carry the concept through to production. We’re only going to win when we can change the perceptions of clients, creatives and the schools that teach them.”

With the advertising industry being one that places emphasis on creative thinking, Carpenter ensures she stays mentally fresh by balancing her mental work with physical exercise. That, and getting a lot of sleep which Carpenter believes “is the key to great ideas”.

In terms of what her future plans are, Carpenter says she is not the type of person to have long term plans. Instead, she likes to see where life takes her.
“If you have a definitive career objective, you’ll never see new doors opening on the side if you are only focusing on the door at the end,” Carpenter says. 

“I’ve experienced amazing things professionally because I’ve allowed myself to say ‘why not?’ and then change direction.”

For more information, you can connect with Carpenter on Twitter