Earlier this year, Coors launched a new advertising campaign for the Super Bowl. The idea? To infiltrate people’s dreams to get them to buy their beer.
In a rather dystopian turn of events, the company encouraged people to watch a short online video before bed, then play an eight-hour ‘soundscape’ throughout the night in a bid to trigger ‘refreshing dreams’ of Coors.
Dr Deidre Barrett, a leading psychologist, author, and expert on dreams who advised on the project, said: “We saw the results come to life in the Dream Lab trial run when participants reported similar dream experiences including refreshing streams, mountains, waterfalls, and even Coors itself.”
Worried that this type of advertising will be replicated by other companies, experts are now warning of the dangers of this kind of experiment. Speaking to the Guardian, Bob Stickgold, a cognitive neuroscientist at Harvard, said: “They’re trying to push an addictive drug on people who are naive to what’s being done to them. I don’t know if it can get much worse than that. Anything you could imagine an advertising campaign for, at all, could arguably be enhanced by weaponising sleep.”
Stickgold is one of 35 sleep and dream researchers who have signed an open letter calling for a ban on Targeted Dream Incubation (TDI) in advertising. “The kind of dream incubation until recently assumed to be the pure science fiction of movies like Inception is now becoming reality,” it reads.
“Something like 30 million people have these listening, Alexa-type devices in their bedroom. And those devices can play anything they want whenever they want, and advertisers could buy advertising time (for adverts) they want played at 2:30 in the morning,” Stickgold added. “You could have this sort of 1984 situation where advertisers buy advertising time on these devices, and nobody ever knows they’re hearing them.”
The open letter also cites two other companies using this kind of technology to make sales: ”Xbox’s Made From Dreams uses TDI to give professional gamers dreams of their favourite video games, while Playstation advertises a new Tetris game based on a sleep study demonstrating that gameplay incubates Tetris dreams.”