In many parts of Spain, you’ll see the huge black silhouette of a bull, standing on hilltops and near the road. It’s a world-famous symbol of the country, yet when all is said and done it is still, primarily, an advertising vehicle for the sherry and brandy producer Osborne.
Osborne was founded in 1772 by an Englishman from Exeter, who settled in Cadíz. This makes it one of the oldest operating businesses in the world, and the second oldest in Spain.
However, it wasn’t until 1956 that the Osborne bull was brought into existence. The company instructed the advertising agency, Azor, to come up with a campaign for their ‘Veteran’ brand of brandy. An Andalucian artist by the name of Manolo Prieto suggested the bull andthe result was the silhouette, made in wood and four metres high and with the company name, Osborne, displayed. In effect, they were highly original billboards and the first ones began to be erected across Spain in 1957.
Prieto was a bona fide, indeed prolific, artist. Although he is most remembered for his roadside monuments to Spanish brandy, it is recorded that this was a source of disappointment to the man who was so dedicated to his art.
It soon became apparent that wood was not the best material to withstand the weather and from 1961 the bulls were made from metal. They were also increased in size, from 4 metres high to 9 metres. However, a year later, new advertising regulations in Spain meant that the bulls could not be placed too near the road, partly because there were concerns that drivers would not watch the road if distracted by advertising (something that clearly doesn’t seem to apply today, if you have every driven in Spain!).
To be continued…