Advertisements over the years have significantly affected the way we think and make choices. The concept of free will and independent choices are mere idealistic believes that we have today. But as for the advertising industry and for the multinational companies the extent of advertisements they do is not enough.
The expanse of advertisements is going to go beyond television, newspapers and websites; now into your dreams. Various studies have successfully proved that by tweaking certain aspects of the advertisements and effectively using the psychological nature of the human mind, companies can now play advertisements in our dreams.
What is Dream Incubation?
Dream incubation uses various stimuli like sounds, images or sensory cues to monitor and control one's nighttime visions or in fact dreams. It is not a modern invention. In fact, inducing dreams have been in practice since the beginning of human civilisation.
In the fourth century BCE, Greeks used to sleep on earthen beds inside the temples of Asclepius, in the hope of entering an induced state of a dream through which the cure for many diseases will be revealed.
With modern technologies, newer possibilities were opened that were rooted in scientific evidences. These days researchers have successfully been able to control dream content through external stimuli.
Through this effective monitoring and conditioning, researchers have even been able to make people answer several questions while they are dreaming. It is mainly because people are more vulnerable when they are asleep. From a business perspective, this is a huge opportunity for advertisements.
According to an open letter that was published on site named DXE, the scientists have already warned about this and enumerated the intricacies of play of ads in your minds.
There they have explained how the concept of dream advertising or dream incubation will enable companies to engineer ads right into your subconscious when you are sleeping. The biggest fear here is that this is not in the distant future and dream advertising is already tested in public. Which means it is here!
Molson Coors Dream Implantation Project
A company named Molson Coors beverage company openly admitted that they were able to manipulate user's dreams so that they will see images of alcoholic beverages when they sleep. This is mainly through a variation of Pavlov's classical conditioning.
The notion of Targeted Dream Implantation or TDI has its history dated back to over a century. Scientists who have researched into the details of TDI have observed that dream implantation has been very useful in cases of initiatives that try to help smokers quit smoking. They say that these people smoked 30% less when they dreamt about the smell of rotten eggs and cigarettes.
According to Molson Coors, who collaborated with a professor from Harward University, Department of Psychiatry, Mr Deirdre Barrett said in their press release that “Barrett worked with the Coors team to develop a stimulus film that, when paired with a curated eight-hour soundscape, induces relaxing, refreshing images including waterfalls, mountains, and of course, Coors”.
The Coors experiment was rather interesting. They asked customers to watch a very short ad before they went to sleep that featured waterfalls, mountains, Coors Beer etc. and then they played a custom soundscape while they were sleeping. Out of the 18 people who participated in the experiment, five of them reported that they dreamt about the Coors Beer.
Although the results of these experiments are not officially published, one can imagine the scope of such a revolutionary study on the entire direction of advertising in the future.
Future of Advertising
We must also look at smart devices like Alexa which can actually function on their own if they want to or if they are guided by a larger governing body. Devices like these will be able to play anything that they want if the advertisers purchase advertising time on these devices.
These devices can also be used to detect details like the sleep pattern of people, behaviours, song preferences etc. that could help them influence dreams in the company's favour.
Concerns about Dream Implantation
Various association of scientists and media firms like the Guardian have already expressed their criticism and deep disregard for such an initiative. Sleep and dream researchers themselves have urged for a nuanced regulatory system that controls advertising laws.
They are of the opinion that such initiatives should be nipped much before it starts to have a very strong hold on people. The extent of privacy breach that would be facilitated through such unfathomable domination of one's free will cannot be ignored.
Apart from the problem of privacy breaches, it is also an issue of free will. Humans have the right to make informed choices, However, the popularity of dream incubation will result in the exercise of manufactured choices. Right now, all of us can heave a sigh of relief at the cost ineffectiveness of such an initiative for commercial purposes.
What is targeted dream incubation?
Targeted dream incubation is guiding the dreams towards a specific theme or subject.
What are the concerns regarding dream implantation?
Various association of scientists and media firms like the Guardian have expressed their criticism and deep disregard for dream implantation.