The advertising hoardings of black bulls in Spain have added to the Spanish landscape since the Fifties, when bulls first appeared in large, cut-out silhouettes advertising the famous Spanish Brandy, Veterano.
The Osborne spirits company erected large images of bulls starting in 1956, in black with the maker’s name, as advertising boards on sites near to major roads throughout Spain. The bull is, by some, regarded as a semi-official national symbol of Spain.
The bull can been seen looming on the hillside all over Spain. When Spain outlawed billboards on national roads in the early 1990’s, the bulls had to be taken down. Many Spaniards protested, as they had become endeared to the lone bull.
The original bull was smaller and of a slightly different design. It got bigger as publicity was prohibited within 150 meters of a main road. The bulls now have a height of 14 m. There are said to be around 70 of these giant bulls placed throughout the country. You might have seen one or two, yourself.
But what is common practice in Spain, is not necessarily welcome in Catalunya.
The day before yesterday, the last of the Osborne bull signs anywhere in Catalunya, one on a hilltop near El Bruc, in the vicinity of Barcelona, was pulled down by a small group of young and angry Cataláns who consider the bull’s image a Spanish symbol that is not welcome in their nation within a nation.
Catalunya has their own national animal in response to the Osborne bull. A donkey.
Driving through Catalunya, the Comunitat Valenciana or even the Illes Balears, you will often find yourself behind a car which has a small, white sticker with a black donkey on it. You will be following a Catalán driver who wants to express a desire to see Catalunya independent from Spain.
For now, it seems as if the donkey has defeated the bull. In Catalunya, anyway.