Mental playground: Mads Munk and the singular spirit of Denmark’s M2Film

The M2Film head office in Aarhus employs theatrics just as adeptly as the company's videos
The M2Film head office in Aarhus employs theatrics just as adeptly as the company's videos. Here, a glass meeting room is suspended from a swooping ceiling against a red curtained backdrop
(Image credit: press)

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.’

A staircase with a triangular penultimate step stands at the centre of the head office

A staircase with a triangular penultimate step stands at the centre of the head office, encouraging descending visitors to consider where they step

(Image credit: press)

Each space in the head office is uniquely designed, but linked via a common theme of opulent ceiling lighting and wall decorations

Each space in the head office is uniquely designed, but linked via a common theme of opulent ceiling lighting and wall decorations set against black furnishings

(Image credit: press)

the inclusion of the occasional antique piece serves to highlight M2Film's penchant for lighthearted irreverence

While the overall aesthetic is contemporary, the inclusion of the occasional antique piece serves to highlight M2Film's penchant for lighthearted irreverence

(Image credit: press)

Dark walls, rows of screens and sharp floor lighting give this corridor in the Aarhus head office the vibe of a futuristic spaceship

Dark walls, rows of screens and sharp floor lighting give this corridor in the Aarhus head office the vibe of a futuristic spaceship

(Image credit: press)

The Bangkok office is designed in the same vein, with plain, dark surfaces, statement lighting and the occasional revivalist piece

The Bangkok office is designed in the same vein, with plain, dark surfaces, statement lighting and the occasional revivalist piece

(Image credit: press)

A wall of oversized Lego bricks and figurine heads in M2Film's workshop alludes to the company's deep affinity

A wall of oversized Lego bricks and figurine heads in M2Film's workshop alludes to the company's deep affinity for the plastic brick makers

(Image credit: press)

The head office in Aarhus has a full juice bar and a huge barista machine; staff are encouraged to make proper coffee and smoothies

The head office in Aarhus has a full juice bar and a huge barista machine; staff are encouraged to make proper coffee and smoothies

(Image credit: press)

A smattering of objects from the workshop reflects the humour and flair that has made M2Film

A smattering of objects from the workshop reflects the humour and flair that has made M2Film into an internationally respected production company

(Image credit: press)

Munk's love of ornate chandeliers is also reflected in the design of his private home in Aarhus

Munk's love of ornate chandeliers is also reflected in the design of his private home in Aarhus, pictured here

(Image credit: press)

Munk is introducing a new scheme that will allow his staff to choose where in the world they work

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’

(Image credit: press)

a trailer for the series Lego Legends of Chima, which has been shown in 40 countries and in 17 languages

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M2Film is responsible for much of Lego's non-movie animated production. Pictured above is a trailer for the series Lego Legends of Chima, which has been shown in 40 countries and in 17 languages

(Image credit: press)

The video has become a viral sensation, garnering in excess of 4 million views on YouTube

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Launched in 2012, M2Film's campaign for Danish bus company Midttrafik offered a whimsically exaggerated take on the virtues of bus travel. The video has become a viral sensation, garnering in excess of 4 million views on YouTube

(Image credit: press)

A 2015 sequel to the Midttrafik campaign retains the high drama of the original while casting the spotlight on the passenger, portrayed as a superhero

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A 2015 sequel to the Midttrafik campaign retains the high drama of the original while casting the spotlight on the passenger, portrayed as a superhero

(Image credit: press)

TF has been editor of Wallpaper* since December 2020. He is responsible for our monthly print magazine, planning, commissioning, editing and writing long-lead content across all our content pillars. He also plays a leading role in multi-channel editorial franchises, such as our annual Design Awards, Guest Editor takeovers and Next Generation series. He aims to create world-class, visually-driven content while championing diversity, international representation and social impact. TF joined Wallpaper* as an intern in January 2013, and served as its commissioning editor from 2017-20, winning a 30 under 30 New Talent Award from the Professional Publishers’ Association. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he holds an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University.