Colours (not colors) are just the tip of the iceberg when trying to promote a global brand or global campaign in Japan. William Hall ("Colors Matter," page 40, July 2000) provides the kind of research in black and white that serves as tangible backup when trying to convince staff from the dreaded head office in a faraway land.
The representatives from head office land, overlooking not just "well-meaning" but also well-informed opinions from local staff (most of the time), like to wade into the marketplace assuming they know how the very staff they have placed here should be marketing. Images, logos, body copy, and visuals all come under discrimination. Even the types of media to be used in Japan can be affected by a nasty term called "global buy," which looks good on paper (on someone's desk in head office land).
Speaking of colours, perhaps it's less stressful and maybe more useful to look to the future. The colour grey was apparently chosen to represent the year 1999; what will be the colour that best represents 2000? A new colour for danger--Snow Brand white? A colour that arouses the sense of having more with no change in actual value -- ¥2,000 pale brown? A colour to represent the face of Shibuya -- ganguro brown? A traditional colour for Japan's hot summer -- edamame green? And perhaps a colour for the unification of Tokyo (if things go according to plan) -- Yomiuri Giants light grey?
PS: Any research on how important after-hours business entertaining is? Have got a few expense claims I am having trouble explaining to head office ...
Comment made by an anonymous official, the one without sideburns.