Imagine walking down the street and hearing that your hair looks good or that your jacket is cool. No we’re not talking about those irritating wolf whistles that guys have foisted on the fairer sex since the dawn of time. We’re talking about expressions of cheer and goodwill spread by two Purdue University students Cameron Brown and Brett Westcott who on Wednesdays since 2008 have been standing outside the chemistry building on the West Lafayette IN campus with a “Free Compliments” sign and singing the praises of passersby.
The duo otherwise known as the “Compliment Guys ” are part of a trend called “Brightsiding ” a philosophy as the name implies that involves looking on the bright side of life making people smile and feeling good.
While the term “brightsiding” may be new the concept has been around at least since the ’50s when Norman Vincent Peale extolled the power of positive thinking in a book by the same name. Bobby McFerrin in 1988 whistled the theme with his “Don’t Worry Be Happy” tune. Nowadays the Internet especially YouTube is roiling with it. Besides the Compliment Guys there’s pianist Mike Strickland’s animated song “Spread Joy” and the Gratitude Dance a video of people hopping and waving their arms in thanks for the good things in their lives. People are emailing the videos to their friends uploading their own versions and scattering positive thoughts joy and hope like daisies in the wind. And the way things are going these days we could all use a little love right?
Kodak no doubt would agree. The imaging company sponsored the Compliment Guys on a 10-city BrightSide tour that began in June in New Orleans and ended in July at its Rochester NY headquarters. Kodak provided a van and its logo appears on the website brightsidetour.com where the do-gooders blogged and posted videos from their trip.
“We found these guys on YouTube and noticed they have a huge following ” says Leslie Dance vp-worldwide brand marketing and communications at Kodak. “We also have a campaign launching this fall with the tagline ‘It is time to smile ’ so we thought what a great opportunity to get together with them take their genuine sense of optimism and desire to make people happy and try to get them to as many people as possible.”
With Kodak’s support the campus complimenters traveled to New Orleans where at the SPCA the guys tossed out words of praise to workers and pet adopters before moving on to Jackson Square Café du Monde and Bourbon Street. That evening they threw the first pitch at a minor league baseball game and complimented the fans in the stands.
“This fits in perfectly with our brand and what our brand is about which is to remind people that it is time to smile with Kodak ” Dance says. “It’s a natural extension for our brand if you think about Kodak and what we have represented for a long time.”
They praised passersby in Atlanta Baltimore Birmingham Charleston Charlotte Philadelphia and Washington D.C. They even got New Yorkers smiling. For its part Kodak feels so good about the tour it is looking into to working with the Compliment Guys again.
“People are looking at the bright side of life ” Dance says. “They’re finding ways to get others to think about what’s good about life. We believe the world would be a better place if people strengthened and deepened their relationships obviously images being at the center of all that. It is time for people to reach out and share and we want to remind people about that and this whole brightsiding thing. With the economy and other things that are affecting our spirit it is important not to sweat the small stuff and look at the bright side.”