Sticker Shock: This (Black) Car is Blue

Chiratikan Sanguancheep

Project Coordinator & TH Copy Editor

When I was asked to further explore aspects of Thai culture related to color, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Perhaps, I was now considered an expert, having written a couple of articles on the subject (you can find those articles here and here). Things that are a part of my daily life are apparently strange cultural norms to people outside of Thailand.

Picture this: you are cruising down the streets of Thailand, and you spot a sleek black car displaying a sticker that declares, “This car is blue.” Sticker shock? Not if you’ve read my previous articles and can guess that the erroneous label has something to do with our fascination with colors and the days of the week.

As you can see from the above chart, there are good and bad colors associated with each day of the week. A car decal is a quick, contemporary twist on traditional ceremonies performed to ward off misfortune, a decoy for confusing mischievous spirits and foiling their ill intentions. For instance, being born on a Friday and driving a black car might attract bad luck like flies to honey. Fear not, a simple decal, preferably in the same color as the one stated on it, can serve as the perfect repellent. The evil spirit, confused by the conflicting statement, will skip you and move onto a more available victim. The decals gained such widespread popularity that Chevrolet Thailand initiated a campaign for their customers to download them for free.
“This car is blue” decal on my dad’s black pickup truck
Examples of Chevrolet downloable decals from
Now, you might ask, “Why don’t Thai folks simply buy a car of the lucky color from the get-go?” Well, not all cars are available in all the colors of the rainbow. Some people, like those who inherit family cars or taxi drivers who must follow company policy, often end up with a vehicle with an inauspicious color. And what if you’ve had your heart set on the unlucky iridium silver or midnight indigo? It’s easier to slap on a decal than to replace a car or crush a dream.

The decals are an example of long-standing Thai beliefs centered around outsmarting evil spirits. Some skeptics and scoffers, however, ridicule them as a superstition. For those who don’t want to be labeled as superstitious but still want to avert misfortune looming over your car, adding pops of color in the interior offers the perfect compromise, a stylish way to refresh your car and outsmart evil at the same time.

The fear of appearing superstitious and availability of greater color options in newer car models can help some car owners be sticker free, but decals are not going away anytime soon. Given the high number of road accidents, Thai people’s concern for safety shows through in various cultural ways beyond the sticker phenomenon. From selecting an auspicious day to purchase a car or choosing the perfect license plate number (my cousin swears by it) to having a monk bestow a ceremonial blessing upon your vehicle, many traditional beliefs surround the world of Thai car culture. Let’s not forget the small yet potent gesture of hanging a pendant amulet on rearview mirrors. There’s little scientific proof that these practices keep car accidents or troubles at bay. But they give you undeniable peace of mind, a sense of comfort and reassurance as you navigate through life’s treacherous roads.