Advertising in Dreams is Coming: Now What?
Molson Coors recently announced a new kind of advertising campaign. Timed for the days before Super Bowl Sunday, it was designed to infiltrate our dreams. They planned to use "targeted dream incubation" (TDI) to alter the dreams of the nearly 100 million Super Bowl viewers the night before the game—specifically, to have them dream about Coors beer in a clean, refreshing, mountain environment—and presumably then drink their beer while watching the Super Bowl. Participants in what Coors called ‘the world’s largest dream study’ would get half off on a 12 pack of Coors; if they sent the link to a friend who also incubated their dreams, the 12 pack was free. With this campaign, Coors is proudly pioneering a new form of intrusive marketing. “Targeted Dream Incubation (TDI) is a never-before-seen form of advertising,” says Marcelo Pascoa, Vice President of Marketing at Molson Coors.
With brain imaging techniques beginning to capture the core contents of people’s dreams and sleep studies establishing real-time communication between researchers and sleeping dreamers, the kind of dream incubation until recently assumed to be the pure science fiction of movies like Inception is now becoming reality. Coors is not the only company expressing interest in using these novel dream incubation technologies: Xbox's Made From Dreams uses TDI to give professional gamers dreams of their favorite video games, while Playstation advertises a new Tetris game based on a sleep study demonstrating that gameplay incubates Tetris dreams. In 2018, Burger King created a "nightmare" burger for Halloween, claiming that a sleep laboratory study had ‘clinically proven’ it would induce nightmares. And multiple marketing studies are openly testing new ways to alter and motivate purchasing behavior through dream and sleep hacking. The commercial, for-profit use of dream incubation is rapidly becoming a reality.