Usually, failing to respond to the ASA is a surefire way of having a complaint upheld. Indeed, failing to respond to the ASA is a breach of the CAP Code in itself.
However, in the Fenton Fitness decision, the ASA decided against upholding a complaint even though the advertiser failed to respond to the ASA's investigation.
Despite the lack of response, the ASA took an intelligent approach and considered the ad on its merits. The complainant had complained that the ad (which involved a model pulling down her leggings to reveal her hip) was degrading to women. However, the ASA rejected the complaint on the basis that there was no explicit nudity, and the exposing of the woman's hip was related to the advertising message of fitness.
It is good to see the ASA critically evaluating complaints, even when the advertiser has failed to engage in the process.
We considered that the nature of the service being promoted meant that viewers of the ad were less likely to regard it as gratuitous and degrading to women. The ad showed the model wearing a sports bra and pulling down the waistline of her leggings to partially reveal her hip area. We considered that this was to demonstrate to consumers the possibility of what could be achieved with the training classes that were being advertised, specifically a toned abdomen with a v-line. Furthermore, we did not consider that the model's facial expression was suggestive whilst she was slightly pulling down the waistline of her leggings to reveal her v-line.