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March 13, 2009

Purdue 'Compliment Guys' spread cheer across campus

"The Compliment Guys"
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Two Purdue University students are gaining national attention for their polite, if somewhat peculiar, practice of complimenting complete strangers.

Brett Westcott, a sophomore in civil engineering from Plainfield, Ill., and Cameron Brown, a sophomore in business management from Toledo, Ohio, stand on a prominent walkway at the center of campus every Wednesday and offer compliments to hundreds of passersby.

Westcott said he woke up with the idea at the beginning of the school year and quickly recruited his friend Brown.

"I love giving free compliments – there's nothing else I'd rather do," Westcott said. "The first day I was a little bit nervous because I wasn't sure how people were going to take it. But we've had a good response."

Westcott says the pair has given thousands of free compliments, sometimes requiring quick thinking and machine-gun delivery during busy passing periods. Typical objects of praise are people's shoes, pants, jackets, hats, sunglasses, scarves, backpacks, hairstyles and smiles.

Brett Westcott, left,
Cameron Brown, right

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"These guys brighten my day every Wednesday," said Rachel Taylor, a junior from Fairplay, Colo., who recently repaid a compliment on her plaid jacket with snack food she had purchased for herself. "They are so much fun!"

Some recipients adjust their pedestrian commutes just to receive and return the praise.

"Whatever they can come up with at the time they will compliment you on," said graduate student Richard Severe. "It feels good. I try to throw compliments back to acknowledge them."

The "Compliment Guys" are not affiliated with any group and, contrary to conjecture, are not engaged in a fraternity initiation ritual, a sociology experiment or an attempt to meet girls.

Brown said the pair now are receiving the best compliment of all - other people occasionally join them in dispensing compliments to strangers.

"This gets me through my week, and I think if we stopped coming out they would miss us. The whole goal is to brighten people's days," Brown said. "We want people to pay more compliments. Hopefully, people at other college campuses will pick it up and decide that their college needs more compliments."

The Compliment Guys are starting to gain regional and national attention for their good deeds. Profiles on them have been published in the Indianapolis Star and Chicago Tribune. "The Oprah Show" also has expressed interest in scheduling the duo for an appearance.

Writer: Jim Schenke, 765-494-6262,

Sources: Brett Westcott,

Cameron Brown,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: Video of the "Compliment Guys" can be viewed on YouTube at

The Purdue community has responded enthusiastically to "The Compliment Guys." Sophomores Brett Westcott, from left, and Cameron Brown have been greeted with high-fives, hugs, handshakes and occasionally beverages and snack foods. (Purdue News Service photo/Andrew Hancock)

A publication-quality photo is available at

Purdue sophomores Brett Westcott, background at left, and Cameron Brown, "The Compliment Guys," offer free compliments to hundreds of passersby every Wednesday afternoon. (Purdue News Service photo/Andrew Hancock)

A publication-quality photo is available at


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