A peek into our collections, one object at a time

Selena Coke Ad

September 15, 2017
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Singer Selena with bottle of Coke
Selena in gold lamé top with matching hat, 1994. Photo by Al Rendon, Collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

In the 1960s and ’70s, Latinos in advertising began advocating for the buying power of Latino consumers, leading to a transition in the advertising industry from mass market to targeting specific demographic groups. A new display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History explores advertising history through the work of San Antonio-based agency, Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar & Associates, which grew to be the top billing Latino ad agency at the time.

Singer-songwriter Selena Quintanilla-Perez rose to fame in the in the late ’80s among Mexican Americans and became known as the “Queen of Tejano music,” a popular form of music from Texas. Her chart-topping hits led her to sign with a major record label, and she started to transition into popular music before her untimely death in 1995. 

Her fame made her a desirable spokesperson for brands looking to market specifically to Latinos. This transparency from a 1994 Coca-Cola photo shoot is one of the objects in the display along with Selena’s black-leather performance jacket and bustier and a Clio Award for the Sosa Agency’s work in HIV/AIDS awareness.