The adult–child coach in television commercials

Shosh Davidson, Rivka Ribak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reflects upon the cultural logic of television commercials in which children promote products for adult use. Studies of ads that assume traditional family structures inform our exploration of the adult–child reversal that these texts depict. A close reading of 26 commercials broadcast on Israeli television during 2012–2017 identifies three narratives: in the subordinate worker, adults take orders from middle-class children; in the illiterate father, fathers rely on the literacy of their children; and in the shortsighted investor, adults learn from child financial coachers how to plan for the future. Drawing on Goffman’s observations on generational hierarchies, we distinguish the first and second “carnivalesque” narratives, embedded in conceivable scenarios, from the third, improbable, “simulacrum” narrative, which uses children to infuse neoliberalism’s ambiguous fluidity with efficacy and hope. Dismissing precarity, the adult–child financial coacher is emblem of the entrepreneurial self: direct, realizing, bold, and forever young.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-575
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • Children
  • adult–child reversal
  • financial coachers
  • infantilization
  • television commercials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'The adult–child coach in television commercials'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this