Don’t add any of these to your holiday wish list.
It’s never a good sign when the masses wonder whether your latest product is really an April Fool’s Joke. (Looking at you, Creme Egg Mayo.)
Heinz and Cadbury weren’t the only ones to launch a highly mockable product. For your reading pleasure, we’ve rounded up a shortlist of this year’s worst design fails. In no particular order, here are the products that most invite the question, why?
1. Google’s Nest (with a hidden microphone).
The home security device Google Nest Secure has a built-in microphone, which is not inherently bad. What’s bad is not disclosing to your customers that the device has said microphone. Google didn’t mention the mic in its advertising–or, even more concerningly, in the tech specifications on the device’s product page–until it announced that a new update made the product compatible with its voice assist feature. That won’t help Google gain any trust among those convinced that Big Tech is spying on them. The company told Business Insider that the microphone “was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part.” Indeed.
2. Adidas’s Black History Month shoe.
Adidas did good by announcing that it was releasing a sneaker in honor of Black History Month. Then it unveiled the product: an all-white shoe called “Uncaged.” Yikes. The sneaker was an update to the existing Ultraboost Uncaged sneaker series, but that didn’t make it any less awful. Twitter reacted accordingly, and Adidas pulled the shoe before it ever hit shelves. The company said it was trying to pay homage to Harlem ballrooms of the 1920s, or something.
3. Disney’s bomb-shaped soda bottles.
Starting in the spring, guests at the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park in Disneyland were able to buy soda bottles shaped like the grenade-like weapons known as thermal detonators from the films. The problem with selling bottles that look like explosives? They look like freakin’ explosives. The TSA eventually got involved, announcing that the bomb-shaped bottles would not be allowed in either carry-ons or checked luggage. Entirely reasonable.
4. Nike’s self-tying shoes that don’t self-tie.
Nike raised some eyebrows in 2016 when it released $720 “self-tying shoes” modeled after the ones in Back to the Future II. The company released a new version in February 2019 that cost a slightly less outrageous $350. But a glitchy software update rolled out days later prevented the shoes from connecting with the app–which means they couldn’t self-tie. Since the sneakers don’t have laces that can be tied the old-fashioned way, they essentially became useless. Nike fixed the software a few weeks later, which is an acceptable amount of time to be without, say, Pokemon Go, but a very long time to go without shoes.
5. ShadeCraft’s five-figure umbrella.
So you love lounging outside, but you hate actually being in sunlight, and you’re fed up with having to get up and physically move your umbrella. Then this is the product for you–so long as you’re willing to drop $10,000. The Sunflower Umbrella from ShadeCraft automatically tracks the sun and moves along with it, sparing you from the huge and previously unsolvable problem of umbrella rotation. The issue here isn’t in the execution, but in the fact that this product exists at all. Yes, the solar energy it stores can be used to power the built-in lights and speaker, but can’t you buy those things plus an umbrella on their own for, like, 1/100th the price?
6. Gucci’s blackface sweater.
Gucci released an $890 sweater, which some would say is already borderline criminal. To make matters much, much worse, the top of the black sweater can be rolled over the wearer’s mouth and features big red lips that make it look a whole lot like blackface. After an outcry, the company discontinued the product and yanked it from stores, then issued a mea culpa, saying it’s “fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization.” Oh, and all this went down during Black History Month.
7. Cadbury and Heinz’s creme egg mayo.
Perhaps you love mayonnaise. Perhaps you also love those Cadbury Creme Eggs that proliferate during the annual lead-up to Easter. But would you ever consider combining the two? That’s exactly what Heinz and Cadbury did this year when they introduced a mayo with bits of chocolatey creme egg in it. When the companies announced the unholy collaboration, a lot of people on Twitter assumed it was an April Fool’s joke. Unfortunately, it was very real. Some taste testers of the product, which was available only in England, weren’t completely disgusted by it, but in this reporter’s bulletproof opinion, that doesn’t make it any less of an abomination.