Photograph for coca cola ad featuring Selena 1994 by Al Rendon
September 22, 2017 02:17 PM

The late singer Selena Quintanilla, who rose to international stardom for her music in the 80s and 90s, isn’t known for influencing the history of marketing, but a new exhibit at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., says she should be.

On September 12th, the museum showcased a rarely seen side of Quintanilla’s career: her role in changing the world of marketing. Due to her massive appeal to both general and Latino markets, advertisers began targeting specific demographics for the first time.

Photograph for coca cola ad featuring Selena 1994 by Al Rendon

In 1989, for example, Coca-Cola recruited the Queen of Tejano to be a spokesperson. She filmed three commercials for the brand before she was shot and killed by the president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldívar.

The exhibit displays never before seen images from one of her Coca-Cola ads curated by Lionel Sosa of Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar, & Associates (now The Bromley Communications),  one of the first and largest Hispanic ad agencies in the United States.

“Coca-Cola was a true pioneer in Hispanic marketing. They set the stage for brand imagery and participation in all facets of American society,” Sosa said.

Kathleen Franz, chair of the museum’s Work & Industry division and curator of American Business, added: “Selena is a reflection of a second wave of Hispanic marketing….Her selection as a spokesperson for Coca-Cola is based in the growth of the Mexican-American consumer market in the Southwest.”

Twenty-two years later, the Quintanilla brand endures: Forever 21 just released a capsule collection dedicated to the “No Me Queda Más” star, and in 2016, MAC Cosmetics created a limited edition makeup line honoring her that sold out both times it was released.  Next year, the Hollywood Walk of Fame plans to issue Quintanilla a posthumous plaque on the world-renowned sidewalk.

For more information on the exhibit, visit The National Museum of American History.

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