Jim turned off the TV, browsed a few messages on his mobile, and went to bed after an exhausting day at work, hoping to have a sweet dream. When he woke up, he could not remember his dream at night, but he had a bad craving for some chocolates. It was strange as he never liked chocolate, and all of a sudden, he was craving chocolates. Believe it or not, this is the next level of Marketing. Now giant companies have already started working on the project of Dream incubation – placing ads in your dreams, which will make you crave their product to increase purchase intention.
So, your sleep would not be private anymore, as companies will invade your sleep and hijack your dreams for their beneficial purpose. Yes! You read it correctly. Your dreamscape could be the new playground for companies to place their ads. Recently, Molson Coors tested this idea of targeted dream incubation” (TDI) to influence people’s buying behavior. Coors is not the only company testing the dream incubating technique. Xbox’s Made From Dreams employs TDI, while PlayStation promotes a new Tetris game based on a sleep study showing that Tetris gameplay induces Tetris dreams. Burger Kind produced a “nightmare” burger for Halloween, which was proven to induce nightmares. Now several companies and other institutions are already testing these novel techniques to alter the dreams of the people to motivate them to purchase their products more. The commercial, for-profit use of dream incubation, which was only considered to be possible in science fiction movies like Inception, is rapidly becoming a reality.
Dream incubation is not a recent phenomenon. The history of dream incubation can be traced back to the ancient times of Greek Gods or Imhotep in Egypt. Historically, dream incubation was used to fulfill various purposes, but one of the most valued concerns was to cure illnesses relating to illnesses. Dream incubation is one of the oldest methods of healing is testified by written documents. In ancient times, when ordinary physicians could not succeed, patients turned directly to the gods for help by sleeping in their temples. It is considered to be the way to communicate with the divine powers. In recent years, brain scientists started to research this field. The advancements of the latest technology-enabled scientists to develop scientific tools to study the dream incubation process. Moreover, these tools help facilitate the incubation of specific dream content and measure them with accuracy.
Many dream scientists study dreams to heal mental disorders. Altering the content of dream content can help deal with nightmares, past traumas, and depression in life. Many people make use of dreams to boost their moods, enhance creativity or break the bad habit. According to the dream scientists Antonio Zadra, the pre-sleep experience has a profound impact on our dream content, especially for ‘hypnagogic’ dreams that occur in the minutes immediately before or after sleep onset. It has been observed that if the thoughts are implanted the night before, a person might have a dream about the same thoughts. In one of the studies, adult smokers were exposed to a pungent smell of rotten eggs or fish and cigarette smoke during their sleep. The results showed a 30% reduction in smoking behavior over the next following week. It is interesting to note that most of the participants did not have any memory of smelling any odor during their sleep. In one study, two-thirds of participants who played the video game Tetris for multiple days at a time for several hours each reported at least one dream, including distinct Tetris images during the sleep-onset stage the nights following play. According to Freudian theory, dreams are wish fulfillment. Freud believed that dreams revealed unconsciously repressed conflicts or wishes.
Understanding sleep and dreams are still at nascent stage. However, Amazon, Apple, and Google have already started working on developing the device that could measure and monitor people’s sleep (eg, Amazon’s upcoming radar sensor, Apple’s iPhone and Apple Watch, Google’s Fitbit and Nest Hub). With all these advancements in technologies and the heightened interest by companies, the days are nor far when the Giant tech companies will be gathering sleep data of the users, which could be used in any way.
A survey conducted among more than 500 consumers showed the result that only 32% of the respondents opposed the idea of using their dreamscape for the Dream incubation by the marketing companies. It is surprising to see that people have become indifferent about their privacy. However, it is our responsibility to raise voice against such unethical practice. These practices can be extremely harmful and manipulative. People are more receptive and have less control during their sleep, that is why it is extremely dangerous, to allow anyone to give access to our dreamscape. It is important to highlight that invading people’s sleep for the sake of manipulating their behaviors in waking life is outright unethical and there must be some regulations to prevent such unethical marketing practices.
Dreams are a precious resource. Don’t let advertisers hack them | Aeon essays. (2021, 19). Aeon. https://aeon.co/essays/dreams-are-a-precious-resource-dont-let-advertisers-hack-them.
Advertising in dreams is coming: Now what? (2021, 7). Dream Engineering. https://dxe.pubpub.org/pub/dreamadvertising/release/1
Atherton, S. (2022, July 6). Dream meanings: What dreams mean & why do we have them? The Sleep Matters Club. https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/do-people-actually-believe-dreams-mean-something-to-us
Ambreen Nadeem is a psychologist and founder of Psychology Talks. She is an Amazon bestselling author, and keynote speaker. She is passionate about helping people understand the importance of psychology in their daily lives. She is actively spreading awareness and helping people to deal with mental health issues through counselling, blogs, Podcasts and live shows. She is one of the Top 50 Most impactful people on LinkedIn.
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