There once was a woman who (as a baby) was stricken by a mysterious illness, which took her sight and hearing. Leaving her to spend the rest of her days in a void of silence and darkness. Yet, she’d go on to do amazing things. Like become a renowned author, without ever seeing a word. An accomplished speaker, without hearing anyone speak. And eventually, one of the most influential people of the 20th century.

The main question people asked was “How?” How could a person who could neither see nor hear do so much more than those with seemingly every advantage? Her response was as simple as it was true. “Alone we can do so little. Together, we can do so much.”

That anecdote sums up why Real Chemistry exists.

In life and in business, our potential should never be defined by who we are alone. It’s meant to be elevated, by the people and things that complement us – to achieve more. But as the adage goes, in architecture and human nature: It’s easier to build walls than bridges. So, our default (despite what makes us better) is to operate in silos.

"The model needed to be shaken up."

We see this in every facet of the healthcare industry. Full of talents, capabilities, and connection points that could complement and elevate each other, but rarely do, by design. This was fine 5, 10, or 20 years ago. But at this very moment, it’s a big, gaping problem.


Healthcare is in the beginning stages of a pretty radical transformation. Between the consumerization of health and the rise of new technologies, the world and its dynamics are moving faster than ever. And the challenges of modern healthcare can’t be approached in the same old ways.

The model needed to be shaken up.

In 2020, 21GRAMS joined forces with W2O to make each other better. And do things that neither of us could do on our own. On the surface, we were very different companies. But on a deep level, we shared similar values and perspectives. Ultimately complementing each other in ways that went well beyond advertising, PR, and other labels.

Here’s a high-level example.

21GRAMS was built to change healthcare communications by tapping into the human spirit. Believing that if you know your audiences better than they know themselves, the work we do will be less of an interruption – and more worth people’s time and attention – because it actually “gets” them.

By collaborating with W2O, we elevated that ability, with the most advanced data and analytics in all of health. Suddenly, we could connect dots others couldn’t. And reach audiences that couldn’t be reached before, with the help of AI and machine learning. Further strengthened by W2O’s acquisition of Symplur, Swoop, and

At the same time, W2O benefitted from 21GRAMS’ unique brand of creativity. Transcending traditional advertising, our “don’t expect attention, earn it” approach complemented W2O’s earned media mindset and needs. But the idea of “complementing” was just the beginning.

Which is where the Real Chemistry story comes in.

More than a parent company name, Real Chemistry is a system. A way of operating based on a belief that real change is only possible through the interaction and combination of unalike people, services, and technologies – to create new answers to health’s biggest challenges.

Unlike a holding company model, which has redundant services (i.e., several advertising agencies, PR firms, etc.) that compete rather than complement each other – Real Chemistry is a global health innovation company. Yes, innovation is one of the most overused words in the English language. Noted. But it’s also the most straightforward way to capture what this is. So, what is it?

A global health innovation company has a collective offering that is bigger than communications alone – with creativity, data, and technology threaded throughout. Essentially, it can affect just about everything along the healthcare continuum, except develop and distribute medicine.

“Real Chemistry is a system. A way of operating based on a belief that real change is only possible through the interaction and combination of unalike people, services, and technologies.”

Which brings us to the overarching mission of Real Chemistry: to make the world a healthier place.

In a less poetic way, this translates to improving outcomes – tying closely to 21GRAMS’ belief that brands should be bigger than medicine. The Real Chemistry ideology is that outcomes aren’t just the job of treatments and therapies. From health literacy, to racial disparities, to tapping into a connected world (where homes, cars, etc. will be part of the healthcare experience), Real Chemistry exists to fill in the gaps. For a future where success isn’t measured by impressions but by real-world impact.

What all of this represents is a mindset shift. Changing the perspective from “what is” to “what can be.” Or, as we often say, “what’s next.” For 21GRAMS, that’s one of the most exciting parts. Because healthcare has long had a reputation for being late to the party. But it is now in a position to lead it.

In our eyes, Real Chemistry is a playground of opportunity. To interact and combine talents, disciplines, and technologies – in an effort to do things that haven’t been done before. None of this is hypothetical. It’s happening now.

21GRAMS is working with starpower (a 2020 W2O acquisition) to bring Hollywood to healthcare. We’re collaborating with brilliant technical minds to help perfect the ability to turn drawings into music for non-verbal kids (in a project called Unspoken Symphony). And on just about every brand we have, we’re elevating our insights with W2O’s data and analytics discipline – to create (wait for it) real chemistry between people and the brands born to change their lives.

Like the person we met at the beginning of this story (whose legacy lives on as an example of what we can accomplish with the help of others), 21GRAMS is seeing and doing things we couldn’t have alone. Scratching the surface of where healthcare goes next in an effort to make a deep mark that changes everything.

Because as Ms. Keller said so long ago, “Together we can do so much.”