An ad campaign knocks on a new door. It could open a Pandora's Box.
It’s time, perhaps, for the creative minds behind the innovations in advertising to go back to school. After all, one of the first lessons in geometry is that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. And in science, there is Occam’s Razor, which broadly states that the simplest explanation or solution is usually the best one. So, if you’re asked to sell beer — an addictive and popular beverage — just getting the product out there is probably enough. Not so, it seems, for the people in charge of advertising for Coors. Instead of going the traditional route — or even for more innocuous forms of “disruption” — they decided that mind control and manipulation a la Inception is the best way to sell their ale.
The recent Coors campaign involved asking people to watch a short video before they slept, which would influence their dreams. Presumably, the prospective customer dreamt of Coors and woke up without a hangover, prompting him or her to buy the beverage. Sleep researchers have, understandably, raised an alarm over the campaign and the Pandora’s Box it could open.
Trying to influence people’s dreams, or even trying to learn from them is nothing new — many cultures have some form of lucid dreaming that goes back centuries. But add to the mix the precision of science, the greed of late capitalism and the ubiquity of technologies like smartphones and digital assistants, and you have a recipe for brainwashing. Imagine if Google or Apple can sell to advertisers the time between 3-4 am, when people are fast asleep, and play subliminal advertising. After all, if sleep therapy can help people quit a substance as addictive as nicotine, it could surely nudge them towards buying a particular product. Fortunately, for now, the Coors campaign was a bit of a bust — people prefer to have their beer marketed the old-fashioned way. And hopefully, our dreams — the most intimate recesses of the self — won’t be polluted for just a little bit longer.
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