SMC student to make presentation at Cambridge
By MYRA McGRIFF
Saint Mary's Editor
As seniors prepare for graduation day, one question Alyson Leatherman will not have to answer is what she is doing after graduation. She will spend her summer not only preparing for the working world, but also preparing a presentation for the Popular Culture Association International Conference at Cambridge in England.
Leatherman will present her paper on the role of Osborne Liquor Company's advertising in southern Spain. The company's giant bulls have become more than just an effective ad campaign, according to Leatherman's paper, they are part of the cultural identity of many people in southern Spain.
"We first set out to understand how the Osborne Company survived after their billboards were taken down, but there is more behind what they are than advertising. The Osborne bull has become a national icon," said Leatherman.
The project started more than a year ago when Leatherman and Carla Johnson, a professor in the communication department, applied for a Sistar Grant to research advertising in Spain.
When the original proposal was rejected, Leatherman shifted the focus of the project to studying the billboards of Osborne Liquor Company and the role that outdoor advertising plays in creating community and place. The company uses bulls with Osborne Brandy written on them to advertise its product.
"The paper deals with outdoor advertising which is the least studied but the most persuasive," Leatherman said.
To understand how pervasive Osborne Liquor Company's advertising is, Leatherman needed time to research the history of the company as well as southern Spain, the location of the advertising. In the fall of 2000, with the help of Johnson, Leatherman started an independent study to uncover the history of Osborne Liquor's advertising in southern Spain.
The independent study gave Leatherman the opportunity to use both of her majors, communication and Spanish. Collecting research in Spanish and translating it into English added depth to Leatherman's research.
Leatherman found that in 1988 the government ordered the 36-year-old, life-size Osborne billboards to be taken down. The people of southern Spain petitioned and rioted to have the bulls replaced. She believes the people's reaction proves Osborne's product did more than just advertise liquor. She believes Osborne was able to produce an image that became part of people's identity.
With the new information and the encouragement of Johnson, Leatherman sent an abstract of the project to the Popular Culture Association International Conference. In November 2000, the Association accepted the abstract to be presented in August. Although when she did not receive the Sistar Grant, she is satisfied she can present the paper, El Toro de Osborne, to an international audience.
Even if the paper is not published, Leatherman will always have the experience that many never have: researching and presenting a topic of interest. She says the opportunities generated from the independent study reached beyond any Saint Mary's curriculum.
"It is absolutely satisfying. To come back and write a paper with a professor and present it is so rewarding," said Leatherman. "We're hoping it will encourage other students to pursue independent projects."
At the end of the conference in August, Leatherman will join the firm of Thomas Havey Accounting, Tax and Consulting in Chicago as a marketing coordinator. The firm serves non-profit organizations.
All News Stories for Friday, May 18, 2001