Scientists have a stern warning for us: companies want to target our dreams with advertising. Do not smile, if it seems absurd: because they are already doing it.
Second Science Magazine, 40 researchers with expertise in sleep dynamics have signed an open letter calling on lawmakers to regulate a technique called "targeted dream incubation (TDI)". In the letter, the researchers warn that big companies like Coors 'and Burger King are actively attempting advertising to design potential customers' dreams.
A dream advertisement
"TDI advertising is not a funny gimmick, but a slippery slope with real consequences", the researchers wrote in their letter . "Planting dreams in people's minds for the purpose of selling products, not to mention addictive substances, raises important ethical questions."
Our dreams can't become just another playground for corporate advertisersA sentence from the letter from the researchers
Dreaming of beer
The authors of the letter specifically cite a case in which Molson coors - the parent company of Coors, Blue Moon and Miller beers - used TDI to advertise in people's dreams in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.
For this, they invited willing participants to watch a “dream-inducing video”. A video created with the help of a sleep scientist that included images and sounds of "waterfalls, mountains and, of course, Coors" before falling asleep, according to a press release from Molson Coors .
Participants were encouraged to share the link to the video with friends, with the promise of a free bottle of 12 beers.
Get an idea of what happened:
Disturbing implications. Indeed obscene.
Having a company that makes its way into your dreams with advertising sounds like the stuff directly from the authors of Black Mirror, but that's exactly what is happening in reality.
Although dream engineering currently requires our active participation, researchers warn that this advertising gimmick could usher in a new (negative) phase of advertising.
A stage where companies employ passive TDI tactics, perhaps through things like smart speakers.
Hypnosis at home
“[It's] easy to imagine a world where smart speakers […] become passive and unconscious nighttime advertising tools, with or without our permission,” the authors say in the letter. “These bespoke soundtracks would become a backdrop for our sleep. A bit like the endless advertising billboards that dirty the streets (and that we risk finding ourselves "obligatory" even on the car display) have become for our waking life ".
For now, we will have to wait and see if lawmakers do anything about it. If the researchers are right, however, this could end up being a slippery slope.