Making bad Products on Purpose

I’ve always been fascinated by the creative minds bringing us products that solve very specific problems. But how about the products creating problems? Is there any value in “breaking the rules”?

These glorious gadgets are called “Chindogu”.

The lady in the header image is showing off one of the most famous Chingodu. A “360 degrees camera” composed of a bunch of disposable cameras strapped to her head. It’s eye-catching, subversive and utterly useless. Absolute genius!

These are the 10 commandments every Chindogu must follow and what wisdom can be extracted from each of them.

1. “A Chindogu can not be for real use”

The Salty Punching Bag

Picture this. You’re having dinner with your family and start feeling an intense frustration because your salt shaker only dispenses salt. Not only that, it doesn’t glow, it has no Bluetooth connection and you can’t synchronize it with your phone.

Have you ever thought of how much better your life would be if your salt shaker could do all those things?

Me neither!

Let me introduce The Smalt. The product that’ll make your loved ones question why they keep hanging out with you.

Is your product actually useful or are you just pretending it is?

2. “Chindogu must exist”

Tesla’s Death Ray

The best “Chindoguist” in history, and my personal hero, Nicola Tesla envisioned an amazingly expensive and complex Death ray. Ignoring the fact that cannons had been invented in the 12th century.

This is, in fact, not a Chindogu. Chindogu must exist and Tesla’s Death Ray, although cool sounding, was entirely theoretical.

Are you wondering whether your product is viable? Build it!

3. “There must be the spirit of anarchy”

The Anarchy Generator

Nothing is more punk than creating a visor shaped like a hand so you don’t need to use your own hand to protect your eyes from sunlight. This product spits in the face of the old dogma and draconian ideals.

The “Shady hand” challenges every single piece of knowledge humankind has ever produced. It is the ultimate cognitive dissonance, the Omega of revel.

And one size fits all!

Are your products as fundamentally disruptive as the “Shady Hand”?

4. “Chindogu are tools for everyday life”

The Christmas Fire Hazard

Christmas trees are a symbol of hope, peace and other ad friendly words, but how good are they if you only use them once a year for a very short period of time?

I’m calling it now, whoever finds a way to make Christmas trees trendy all year long, will be a very rich person.

Now I don’t think there’s anything wrong with seasonal products, variety is the pumpkin spice of life (see what I did there?) but I think it’s worthwhile thinking how much use people will get out of what you offer them.

Can your product be used every day or is it limited to a few uses a year, or maybe just once?

5. “Chindogu are not for sale”

Has science gone too far?

The “boyfriend arm” began its life as a Chindogu but it has since lost its purity, thanks capitalism. Creating a Chindogu is the art of imaginative and novel problem-solving. The humour is a by-product of the evident out-of-the-box thinking.

Legend says, every time you see a Chindogu on Amazon, an angel loses its wings.

How much better can our products be if we focus on our customers’ happiness other than cold, hard cash?

6. “Humor must be the sole reason for creating chindogu”

The Forever Pet

In 1975, the world was introduced to (arguably) the least useful product ever created, the “Pet Rock.

For only $3.95, you could be the proud owner of the only per that requires no food, rest, or shelter. A.k.a a rock.

It was, by all means, a joke product, not meant to be taken seriously whatsoever. It made its creator, Gary Dahl, $15.000.000

How much more creative our products can get if we learn to joke more and take ourselves less seriously?

7. “Chindogu is not propaganda”

Make Hats Great Again

The phrase “Make America Great Again” was initially used as a campaign slogan by President Reagan in 1980 and President Clinton in a 1992 speech, but nothing could prepare us for the power that seemingly innocuous series of words would acquire in 2016 during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

When you buy a “MAGA” hat, you aren’t buying it because of the vibrant red, the exquisite embroidering or just because you don’t like the sun in your eyes. You are buying an idea, more so, you’re buying the ability to show that idea to anyone looking in your general direction, like a political peacock.

Is your product desirable for itself or for what it represents?

8. “Chindogu are never taboo”

Cheaters always win

In 2012 Reebok thought the best way to promote their products was to incite gym goers with the delightful image you see above. I’ll go ahead and give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were just trying to be funny or edgy, not just incredibly tone-deaf.

Most people would, understandably, not be as generous.

don’t be a dumbass

9. “Chindogu cannot be patented”

Mi Product es su Product

There’s an extremely high chance you’re benefiting from products improved by leveraging the power of collaboration, Open source software like Android, food recipes shared and modified freely throughout human history, thousands of works of art belonging to the public domain.

Imagine having to pay for a patent every time you want to cook Pizza™. That’s as close to hell on earth as we can get.

How many lives can you improve if you reduce your product’s barrier to entry to zero?

10. “Chindogu are without prejudice”

What’s in a name?

Would you rather have French or Chinese wine?

I am yet to find someone who’d pick the latter. But here’s the thing, there is no necessary advantage France has over China, they’re both as capable of creating a high-quality product.

And yet, there’s prejudice against China. Not just in the wine industry, in every industry. Audio equipment, cars, tools and whatnot. Despite the fact all those things are made there.

We’re surrounded by products “designed in X and assembled in China”. Perhaps one day China will be able to shake off its bad reputation.

Have you thought about prejudice your product is suffering from or even creating?

Closing thoughts.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour through the steps to make an utterly useless and unforgettable product. I know I’ve learned a lot from the mavericks who live by their own rules. Perhaps we all need a bit of that from time to time.

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Product Manager working in Shanghai. I make cool stuff for cool people

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Cesar Gozurreta

Cesar Gozurreta

Product Manager working in Shanghai. I make cool stuff for cool people

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