Multinational beverage conglomerate Molsen Coors unveiled a ‘never-seen-before form of advertising’ during this year’s Super Bowl game. Coors combined Targeted Dream Incubation (TDI), the science of guiding dreams, to advertise their products – Coors Light and Coors Seltzer, in the viewers’ dreams.
“Coors will shape and compel your subconscious using a stimulus film, and an eight-hour soundscape throughout the night, to trigger you to dream the Coors Big Game ad,” read the press release. Coors worked with Dr. Deirdre Barrett – a psychologist, author, and expert on dreams, to make their reality our dream.
Although the use of TDI in advertisements portrays itself as a massive feat in its sector, 35 sleep and dream researchers co-authored a letter objecting to the alarming consequences of the wrongful use of TDI.
But What is Targeted Dream Incubation?
According to scientists at MIT, ‘Targeted Dream Incubation is a method for guiding dreams towards specific themes.’
TDI is achieved in a partial state of consciousness called hypnagogia, wherein the brain is somewhere between its conscious and unconscious state. “This state of mind is trippy, loose, flexible, and divergent,” explains Haar Horowitz, the leading neuroscientist of the study at MIT. During this, the brain can hear and analyze the input fed to them and as a result, can also visualize the input.
Snippet from Coors Big Game Commercial.
“Targeted dream incubation is a protocol for reactivating memories during sleep in a manner that leads to incorporation of the targeted memory, or related memories, into dream content,” the study describes.
Dream incubation is not a relatively new technique to induce specific dreams but a rather ancient one, dating back to over 5000 years ago. Studies show that the practice prevailed in ancient Greece, Egypt, Rome as part of their religion.
Targeted Dream Incubation and Coors
After being unable to bag an advertisement slot during the game, Coors’s next best idea was to infiltrate nearly 100 million Super Bowl viewers’ dreams a night before the game.
Dr. Deirdre Barrett and other visual artists (The Mill, Ghost Robot, and DDB) accompanied the beverage company to meticulously craft a film with distinct audio and visuals with the motive to stimulate one vision in the viewer’s slumber – Coors Big Game ad. After watching the film, the viewer is advised to sleep with an eight-hour-long soundscape formulated to trigger Coors-related visuals in their dreams.
“Working with the artists of the Coors Dream Project was a novel opportunity to craft audio and visual stimuli that viewers could use to trigger specific dream content,” Dr. Barrett stated in the press release. “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.”
Ahead of the big game, “Pillowtalk” singer Zayn Malik himself was put to the test to authenticate the technique. On an Instagram live, the singer was seen watching the film and later falling asleep with the soundscape in the background. Zayn, who was skeptical of the experiment before trying, said, “I seen like this huge robot. It was like a metal robot, but he was made of Coors cans and he was walking over the hills. And there were some streams there. There were some rivers.”
Some Scientists stand in Objection
35 sleep and dream researchers from around the world signed a letter, warning of the adverse consequences that could unfold if other advertisers follow Coors’ path. What might seem like a genius and novel marketing tactic could end up infiltrating the lives of the common people.
Scientists have made great strides in the realm of sleep and dreams to help with memory and emotional health, mainly for the betterment of human health. TDI has helped smokers reduce their nicotine consumption by 30% using olfactory conditioning, as per a 2014 study. Additionally, it has managed to reduce racial bias. However, its coalition with advertisements is a “slippering slope”.
“TDI-advertising is not some fun gimmick”, the letter asserts. “Planting dreams in people’s minds for the purpose of selling products, not to mention addictive substances, raises important ethical questions.” Most houses now have smart devices that could play advertisements with or without the permission of the users. It could unfold a dangerous trajectory and invasion of people’s privacy.
“We believe that proactive action and new protective policies are urgently needed to keep advertisers from manipulating one of the last refuges of our already beleaguered conscious and unconscious minds: our dreams,” urged the scientists.