Mental playground: Mads Munk and the singular spirit of Denmark's M2Film
M2Film may not be a household name (yet), but chances are you’ve seen its work. The Danish production company is responsible for the majority of Lego’s animation output, and their envelope-pushing ads regularly find resonance beyond their home audience.
Founder and CEO Mads Munk is a sharp-eyed, dauntless man with a reassuring charm. Entirely self-made, he left home aged 10 and found his way to London at 16; a stint selling flowers at a market stall sparked his visual imagination and supported him through multimedia school. After a period at Lego’s AV department, he founded M2Film, determined for it to be playful, creative and daring – a reflection of his own state of mind.
The company’s output is broad, but it particularly excels at creating engaging advertisements for otherwise mundane products and services. A 2012 TV spot for bus company Midttrafik, for instance, showed a bus traversing the Danish countryside as passengers clamber to board, jumping for joy at the sight of grab handles and gasping in wonderment as the stop button springs to action. In another, male underwear by Danish brand JBS is touted by bikini-clad bombshells working a production line.
Munk surmises that the creation of a viral campaign requires bravado on the parts of both producers and clients. ‘I think you have to live in the times you are living in, and be as sophisticated as they are,’ he says. ‘But if the times are very sophisticated, you do the opposite.’ He is happy to bank on raw sex appeal, but emphasises that a sense of humour is at the core of M2Film’s work. ‘The final seconds of the JBS ad shows a young boy attempting to purchase a pair, only to be denied by a blunt “this is for men only”. At the end of the day, it’s all done in good fun.’ The strategy seems to be working as not only is M2 now the largest production company in Denmark, but Mads has also recently opened an animation studio on London's Dean St and launched a UK/US entertainment company.
The Munk-designed M2Film offices reflect the company’s unconventional spirit. The style is eclectic – sleek Barcelona and Aeron chairs sit side by side with sturdy chesterfields. The head office in Aarhus has a full juice bar and a huge barista machine; staff are encouraged to make proper coffee and smoothies. ‘If you can give your client a beverage that you’ve just made for them, they’ll think, “this person cares deeply about my drink, so he probably cares deeply about my product”.’
But it’s the ceiling fixtures that truly impress. Cluttered with sound plates, the cavernous space looks like a concert hall. Outsized chandeliers squeezed into close quarters heighten the sense of drama. In the centre is suspended a meeting room clad entirely in glass. As a seasonal aside, the yearly budget for office Christmas decorations – set by Munk himself – now pips £20k. ‘It’s very OTT,’ he chuckles.
But M2 has much more to offer than just gimmicks. Munk is introducing a new scheme that will allow his staff to choose where in the world they work, ‘whether in Aarhus, Copenhagen, London or Bangkok. I want M2 to be one big playground, where they can develop themselves and create their own success.’