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Here’s how advertisers run ads while you sleep


  • Advertisers could reach you while you sleep, as evidence shows.
  • A group of sleep researchers calls for this so-called “sleep advertising” to be regulated in order to minimize possible harmful effects.
  • Dream implantation works by playing sounds or using smells to “prepare” your brain.

    The next frontier for advertising isn’t virtual reality or holograms – it’s your dreams, according to a group of dozen of sleep researchers. And the practice, they warn, could soon turn into a nightmare.

    In an open letter posted on the Op-Ed website DXE, the scientists criticize the concept of dream advertising, in which companies bring advertisements into your subconscious through audio and video clips. The practice not only already exists, the letter says, but a beer company even publicly tested it in the run-up to the Super Bowl LV earlier this year.

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    As an example, the sleep researchers cite a really strange press release from February 4th. In it, the Molson Coors Beverage Company – which includes brands like Coors Light, Miller Lite, and Blue Moon – openly admitted that they could manipulate your dreams so that you and many others could see visions of alcoholic beverages dance through your head together:

    It’s no surprise that the stress of the pandemic has resulted in many of us having trouble sleeping and, in turn, experiencing strange, bizarre dreams known as “quarandreams.” Usually we can’t control what we dream about, but what if we could? Coors Light and Coors Seltzer want to make sure you have a refreshing dream by using the science of dreaming.

    In their letter, sleep scientists express concern about this type of intrusive dream advertising. What is behind the marketing that talks about better dreams? Is it better to have a naturally occurring stress dream or a “funny” dream that a company happened to plant in your head as an advertisement?

    When you visit CoorsBigGameDream.com, watch the dream-causing movie three times, play the background noise and go to sleep, you should be dreaming of waterfalls, mountains and … Coors.

    Molson Coors beverage company

    “As sleep and dream researchers, we are deeply concerned about marketing plans aimed at generating profit at the expense of our natural nighttime memory processing,” they say. Three researchers from MIT and Harvard wrote the letter, and dozen other sleep researchers from around the world signed it.

    Targeted Dream Implantation (TDI) has a history going back thousands of years, especially among groups who valued dreams for spiritual practice, according to the sleep researchers. Over the past few decades, scientists have conducted experiments showing how dreams can also affect our waking lives. Hence, the implantation of dreams can change the results of the real world.

    How exactly do marketers slip into our dreams? You can work with scientists to introduce sounds and smells that shape what people dream of. Part of the research on TDI involves discouraging people from addictive things like cigarettes. In their letter, the sleep researchers say that people smoked 30 percent fewer cigarettes after “dreaming” about the smell of cigarettes and rotten eggs, for example.

    In another example, scientists asked dreaming people a series of questions. Study participants answered questions, including simple math, by moving their eyes back and forth in their lucid dreams.

    Molson Coors meanwhile worked with Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D., a part-time assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard University. The press release states, “Barrett worked with the Coors team to create a stimulus film that, when combined with a curated eight-hour soundscape, evokes relaxing, refreshing imagery such as waterfalls, mountains, and of course, Coors.”

    It’s easy to see where the researchers’ concerns are coming from, as this scientific feat resonates with advertisers – especially if the advertiser is a beer company offering a product that has the potential to become habits for consumers.

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    “Researchers have not yet tested whether TDI can make addiction worse instead, but the Coors study, which combined images of beer cans with images of clean mountain streams rather than obnoxious smells, may shed a troubling light on this question,” they say Scientist.

    For her part, Barrett has since withdrawn her stake in Molson Coors after using overly scientific language that she did not approve in the press release, according to a report in Science. And one of the authors of the comment – Adam Haas of MIT – has been contacted by three companies including Microsoft and two airlines in the past two years asking for his help with dream incubation projects, “which led him to put the letter first.

    If you’re still curious to see what this promotional tactic looks like in practice, you can try it out on CoorsBigGameDream.com. Just don’t blame us if you wake up in the mood for a cold.

    🎥 Now take a look at this:

    Caroline Delbert is a writer, book editor, researcher and avid reader.

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