The Osborne Bull vs The Catalan Donkey
You may well have seen the two symbols of the Catalan donkey and the Osborne bull, although it has to be admitted that the Osborne bull is probably more universally recognized, much to the Catalan donkey’s despair! But where did the rivalry between these two animal symbols come from in the first place?
Have you ever driven around Spain and spotted a large silhouette of a black bull on the top of a hillside? That is what is known as the Osborne bull, and it is the unofficial symbol of Spain. These came about as advertising for the Osborne sherry company, who started to put these bulls up by major roads in Spain in 1956 to advertise their “Brandy de Jerez”. The originals were black with red advertising on them, but slightly smaller in size. When the law was passed to prohibit all advertising within 150 m from the road, the bulls were made bigger. When another law was passed in 1994 to make all roadside advertising illegal, the bulls were set to be removed. In the end due to the majority of the public objecting that the bulls had become part of the landscape, the government agreed to black the bulls out completely to hide the previous advertising, as they had gained "aesthetic or cultural significance" and were now part of Spain’s cultural and artistic heritage.
The bull had become, and still is to this day, a symbol of Spanish pride. The bull was everywhere; on t-shirts, key rings, and car stickers to cite a few examples.
The independent Catalonia decided to hit back with something else: a Catalan donkey. Two friends, Jaume Sala and Àlex Ferreiro came up with the idea for the Catalan donkey car sticker in 2003, as an alternative and satirical reaction to the Spanish bull. They decided on the donkey as not only was the donkey from Catalonia, but many Catalonians felt they could associate themselves with the donkey due to its characteristics: hard-working, stubborn, quietly intelligent, and with the ability to endure hardship. They originally printed just 50 stickers for their friends, and after more signs of popularity, 350,000 more were printed. Not everyone, however, is in favor of the donkey as the symbol for Catalonia, as some people believe donkeys represent stupidity and are a weak symbol.
These days, there are 91 of these bulls still erected in Spain, but only 2 of them maintain the word Osborne on them; one in the same town as the Osborne headquarters, El Puerto de Santa María, and one at the neighboring Jerez de Frontera airport, in Cádiz. The bull which was originally erected in Barcelona was vandalized severely and no longer exists. The Catalan donkey in Catalonia, although perhaps popular among locals, has not reached the same level of fame as the Osborne bull in Spain.