Ad photo of an outdoor fireplace

Ad Photos May be Deceptive

In the 1970’s I was a commercial photographer taking pictures for ad agencies. My job was to make the product look good. My job did not necessarily include truth in advertising. I left that to the agencies. My customer was the ad agency, not the ultimate customer. The ad agency’s customer was the manufacturer of the product, not the ultimate customer.

So fast forward to today. We see photos of products on web sites, and some of the old factors still apply. Make the product look good. Place it in an appealing setting…. such as on a deck if the product is a fire pit, fire table or fire place.

However, seeing a photo of a fire pit on a deck is not evidence that the fire pit is safe to use on a deck.

This is a photo of the Hampton Bay Tilson Park 62″ Outdoor Fireplace looking cool on a deck. When you take a closer look at the product’s web page wanting to learn more about it, you can read the questions consumers have asked and the manufacturer’s answers:

Q. Can this fireplace be set on a composite deck?

A. We only recommend this firepit to be used outdoors in a spacious area on a non combustible surface…….We recommend placing the fire pit “on a hard, level non-combustible surface” as stated in the 13th bullet point on page 4 of the Assembly Instructions Manual under “Important Safety Information (continued)”. For wooden surfaces, you can use a fireproof mat over the wooden floor and place the firepit on the mat.

I don’t mean to single out this fireplace for criticism. I have seen dozens of photos of fireplaces, fire pits, and fire tables on decks when it is quite clear that they are not safe on decks… not safe for the well being of the deck. The Hampton Bay Tilson Park fireplace is a great product at a very good price. I was made aware of it because a DeckProtect customer in North Dakota bought the fireplace and wanted to place it on new new composite deck. We made a custom-size DeckProtect 63″ x 31″ to go under the fireplace. The customer sent us a photo of her beautiful deck arrangement.

When I saw this photo, I was blown away by the creativity. She created a space with an autumn theme on her deck that is warm, inviting, and… what words would you use to describe the setting? This is the kind of photo you might see in a home and garden magazine. One thing is very clear: she did a much better job of showcasing the product than the photo studio that took the photo at the top of this post. The DeckProtect under the base of the fire table is barely noticeable.

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