The Osborne bull (Spanish: Toro de Osborne) is a 14-metre (46 ft) high black silhouetted image of a bull in semi-profile. Nowadays the conservation of the bulls is handled by the family of Félix Tejada.
The Osborne sherry company (founded by Thomas Osborne Mann in 1772) erected large images of bulls starting in 1956 to advertise their Brandy de Jerez. The images were black (with the brand "Veterano" in red on it) advertising boards located near major roads throughout Spain. The original image was smaller and slightly different in design. The current larger image was created to comply with a law that prohibited advertising within 150 metres of a road.
In 1994 the EU passed a law that prohibited all roadside advertising of alcoholic beverages, and the bulls were therefore to be removed. By this time the signs were nationally renowned, so although some campaigners wished them completely removed to fully comply with the intent of the law, public response resulted in the signs being retained, but completely blacked out to remove all reference to the original advertisers. The Court eventually allowed these signs to remain on the grounds that they have become a part of the landscape and have "aesthetic or cultural significance", thus turning the bulls into public domain images.
The bull nowadays
There are now only two signs in Spain with the word "Osborne" still written on them. One is at the Jerez de la Frontera airport in the province of Cadiz, and the other is in the nearby town of El Puerto de Santa María, where the Osborne headquarters is found.
The image of the bull is now displayed in stickers, key rings and the like. Also, in sport events where a Spanish team or individual take part, the bull is embedded by supporters in the Flag of Spain in the manner of a coat of arms.
There are about 90 examples of the Osborne bull advertisements. A few of them are also present, in a slightly different design, in Mexico, where it retains its advertising function.
The Barcelona bull was vandalized by people who identified themselves as Catalan independentists. Later it was restored by a group of neighbours of Masquefa. The only Bull in Mallorca is often vandalized due to independentist or other movements.
- Brandy de Jerez barrels at Osborne headquarters
- Flag of Spain with an Osborne bull
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- "El Toro de Osborne: advertising, community, and myth". The Social Science Journal. 42: 135–140. doi:10.1016/j.soscij.2004.11.012.
- Article in El País commemorating the bull's 50th anniversary, in Spanish
- Reaparece en el Bruc la silueta del toro (Spanish)
- El único toro de Osborne de Mallorca lleva 15 días pintado con la bandera gai Bull painted in LGBT rainbow colours
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Toros de Osborne.|
- Spanish national flag with the Osborne bull : Images from Flags of the World.
- Grupo Osborne, the sherry company
- Spain's biggest bullfight: The militant Catalans waging war against the 'Osborne bulls', The Independent, 6 August 2007