The dystopian future of advertising and advertisements that could invade our dreams

In recent years, advertisers have tried to occupy increasingly surprising spaces. Consumers are fed up with traditional advertising and, most worryingly for brands, they have started to stop paying attention to it. Companies need to surprise and impact, for which they no longer want to stay in just the usual.

In recent years, it has been experimented with advertisements in the armpits of subway travelers or with campaigns that take the hitherto dark tunnels through which trains travel, with campaigns in space and with actions that are as immersive as possible so that the Consumers ‘live’ the ads. All the spaces are potential advertising supports, from the public toilets to the dashboard of your possible future car.

But how far can advertisers go when it comes to positioning their messages? Could they even sneak into your dreams?

A few years ago, an illustrator – I think I remember it was Laura Pacheco – had posted on a social network a humorous illustration about retargeting advertising and how heavy it was. A consumer had seen a bag on Amazon and came across her banner saying ‘you’ve seen this and maybe you’re interested’ even in dreams. What some specialists fear now is a lot like that.

The fear comes from a campaign by Coors, the American beer brand, which ran an ad in the last Super Bowl that spoke of “targeted dream incubation.” They even gave a scientific acronym TDI and had a scientific expert talk about the issue in her ad.

The essence of the ad was to sell the idea that they could get viewers to dream of the brand with this ad the night before the competition. The ad was billed as “the largest study in the world of sleep”, as noted in a joint letter from several sleep specialists that has been published in a scientific journal.

Was it the classic campaign that promises big things but is smoke? Any viewer would think that, but experts fear that things will go further. They fear it is one more step in the emergence of a new form of intrusive advertising and marketing.


Coors, they say, is not the only brand that is toying with the idea. Xbox uses TDI to make eSports players dream of their favorite games and PlayStation also appeals to dreams in a campaign, they warn. Dreams have been present in various marketing and advertising campaigns.

“The use of dream incubation in a commercial way, to generate profits is quickly becoming a reality,” reads the letter from the sleep specialists (it has been written by three specialists from top-level universities and they have signed it, supporting it , experts from around the world).

The whole idea of ‚Äč‚Äčmanipulating what you dream of sounds a bit like science fiction, although the truth is that it is indeed a legitimate field of study and one in which we work to improve the mental health of certain groups. Measuring sleep and brain activity is, in the end, something with a long history in medical research. Experts recall that dreams “have links with the well-being of people.” Manipulating dreams, and more for simply marketing, places yourself in a rather questionable moral position, therefore.

But the big question is whether brands can really manipulate our dreams right now and make us dream about their products. Sleep experts themselves acknowledge that right now it is not so easy. The Coors ad that wanted beers to be dreamed up before SuperBowl, they recall, required consumer collaboration: You needed to be active to be affected, for example by listening to a special soundtrack during sleep.

Right now it’s not that possible
In an article on Gizmodo, in fact, they put the alert given by these experts in a certain quarantine, even using what the scientist who appears in the advertisement, Dr. Deirdre Barrett, and what she has declared after the launch was launched. Bell. The participating subjects were actors hired by the brand and everything was more marketing smoke than a real study with measurable effects (the data obtained was never made public).

The doctor, in fact, believes that the language used in the marketing action makes everything look closer to mental experimentation than it really is. In addition, the campaign was not served on television and to millions of viewers, but it was an action on the company’s website that you have to go looking for to be able to see.

Therefore, right now, and as they conclude in Gizmodo, it is impossible for a company to segment your dreams and for its products to appear, looking for it, in the images you dream of every night.

Future dystopia?

Is it, however, a question for the future? Is that the dystopian future of advertising? Returning to the sleep experts and their conclusions, they warn that it could happen in the future, since smart speakers are very present in our lives and could launch those stimuli necessary to generate those images during the night.

And, after all, remember, smartphones or social networks, which seem so innocuous, are already designed to be addictive to our brain.

Finally, and as they remember in Gizmodo, brands do not have a very clean track record when it comes to accumulating data and using it in their marketing and advertising actions.

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