Tantrum Agency’s founder and creative director is pitch perfect
David Tann is a marketing maverick, crushing campaigns for high-profile clients such as the Atlanta Hawks and launching smaller start-ups into the stratosphere. But the 40-year-old head of Tantrum Agency didn’t get there by chance. He put in the legwork, literally.
Armed with two degrees—one in communication from Wake Forest University, the other in graphic design from The Portfolio Center in Buckhead— the Kennesaw native hit the road, hopscotching around the Midwest as he made his mark in marketing and branding at Hallmark Cards in Missouri, Abercrombie & Fitch and Bath & Body Works in Ohio, and Kohl’s in Wisconsin. By then, he had a thriving career as well as a growing family, including his artist wife, Barbra, and their sons, McKinley and Mason.
They moved back to Georgia, settling in Sandy Springs as Tann took on the rebrand of Carter’s OshKosh B’gosh, a clothing line fondly recalled from his own childhood. He spent a few pivotal years with the Hawks, unveiling the new identity of the NBA team with hometown pride before going solo in 2018 with Tantrum, his creative consultancy and branding agency.
“All of these moves and accomplishments have been kind of surreal,” says Tann, contemplating the logistics of his Midtown studio while sheltering in place at his home office. “When I started out on my own, I thought that I would be lucky to make it six months. We’re over two years into it, which is a complete blessing, and I don’t take it for granted. A lot of small businesses don’t make it this far.”
A finalist in the 2020 Atlanta Marketer of the Year Awards, the agency provides a full suite of services. “We partner with our clients to understand their business needs, and then we provide creative solutions that fit,” Tann says. “When it comes to telling stories, there is a delicate balance between art and science.”
One of his most rewarding projects was creating a bold and edgy new look for the Atlanta Dream. “When they launched their new jerseys, the Instagram comments alone were validation that we accomplished our mission,” he says.
Ironically, Tann stumbled into graphic design after entering The Portfolio Center as a writer. “Growing up, I wrote stories and poems in a journal. It was the only way that I knew how to be creative,” he says. “When I saw all of the cool things on display at the school, I switched to the design program and never looked back. I never had an art class, and to this day I can’t really draw.”
His secret to success? Tann believes it’s important to do good work and treat people well. “Your body of work has to speak for itself. The relationships, how you carry yourself and treat people, work ethic and all of those other intangibles are what keep people coming back and make clients want to work with you,” he says.
An educational advocate, Tann has partnered with Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy in southwest Atlanta to boost reading initiatives and has been a guest lecturer to inspire students. “I talk about how anything is possible with hard work and dedication,” he says. “I’m a creative director with no traditional art background or experience. If I can do the things that I’ve done in my career, there’s no reason that they can’t accomplish their dreams.”
For now, he’s catching up on some quality family time in the wake of the pandemic. “While being an entrepreneur has given me more freedom to dictate my own schedule, COVID-19 has forced us to pause and enjoy this time together even more,” says Tann.
PHOTO: Sara Hanna
Contributing Writer, Simply Buckhead; journalist and graphic designer