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Washed out

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The staff at Foote, Cone & Belding can thank management for making their cars all clean and shiny, but they can forget about a repeat performance next year.

Department heads at the Irvine, Calif., shop recently rolled up their sleeves and formed an assembly line to spiff up employee cars. It was a well-intended act of appreciation, but it seems the in-house ads and posters touting the stunt were a bit too successful.

"We didn't expect there to be that many [cars], and we didn't expect them to be as dirty as they were," said Jim Harrington, president of FCB Southern California. He also has a sneaking suspicion that not all of the vehicles were those used by employees every day. "We did more SUVs and trucks here than we see on a typical day," he said.

Staff members no doubt were compelled by the in-house promos. One showed a mud-caked pickup truck; another featured birds perched on a roof, their droppings spattered on a car below. Also circulated was a "Jim-scented" air freshener, dipped in perfume and featuring a picture of Harrington's smiling face.

In nine long hours, FCB brass washed 94 cars (locking the keys in two of them). Harrington said the event will most certainly not take place next year. "It was too much work," he said. "We'll think of something else."