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MIT Researchers Warn That Leading Marketers Will Start Injecting Ads Into Dreams By "Dream Hacking" In The Next 3 Years

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A new research suggests that leading marketers are trying to “inject” advertisements into people’s dreams.

A study published by a trio of researchers at Harvard, MIT and the University of Montreal in Aeon talks about the emergence of a concept called “dream hacking,” where marketers are trying to use “dream tech” advertising to get their message across the board. Per the research, there 77% of all leading marketers have vowed to get their ads in people’s dreams within the next 3 years.

“Multiple marketing studies are openly testing new ways to alter and drive purchasing behaviour through sleep and dream hacking,” the team writes. “The commercial, for-profit use of dream incubation — the presentation of stimuli before or during sleep to affect dream content — is rapidly becoming a reality.”

Two of the essay’s authors previously worked on an MIT device designed to communicate with sleeping subjects and even “hack” their dreams, lending them credibility on the topic.

A specific ad by Molson Coors before this year’s Super Bowl was referenced in the study. In the ad, Molson Coors promised free beer in exchange for participation in a “dream incubation” study involving a video with dancing beer cans and talking fish and pop star Zayn Malik. The researchers pointed out that this ad was of definitive interest to them as they had coined the term “targeted dream incubation,” in a paper in 2020, which indicates that marketers are already contemplating the strategy.

The authors of the study have appealed to the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates advertising in the US, to institute more legalisations concerning subliminal messages in advertising in order to prevent a potentially unethical practice of dream hacking.

“The Coors dream advertisement was not merely a gimmicky marketing campaign; it was a signal that what was once the stuff of science fiction might quickly become our reality,” the researchers wrote in Aeon. “We now find ourselves on a very slippery slope. Where we slide to, and at what speed, depends on what actions we choose to take in order to protect our dreams.”