Cannes, France — Ask a room at Lions Health who believes they’ll live to 80 years old? 90? And the hands dart up around the room. Few hands remained held high at the big round benchmark of 100 years but Atilla Cansun from Merck Consumer Health believes we should all go for it.

In some regions around the world, life expectancy is already in the 90s and growing. A newborn in Europe today is projected to live 107 – 110 years. What happens when we do have longer life expectancies?

Cansun says that 50, on average, is the last birthday people look forward to. From there, the expectation changes. People wonder where they fit in, what they have to look forward to and even where they will work. 80% of people, for example, think they have a lower chance of finding a job when they are 50+ than when they are younger. 95% think they will not be supported by the government to participate in society after retirement.

Preparing our world for this new era of people living for 100+ years is going to require real change in attitudes and education:

  • 80% of people think society dramatically needs to change its attitude about aging
  • 93% think that our kids are not well educated enough to live a long healthy life

All of us have the right to live 100+ kick-ass years, Cansun says. To help start that conversation about change, Merck created We100:

It’s an open source program that partners and like-minded organizations can join. Fifteen specific projects have already been identified. Merck is starting with funding and roll out for four:

  • Health education for young people focused on living long, healthy lives
  • Volunteer programs designed to bring generations together
  • Co-creating new living models with architecture students that focus on lasting independence
  • Job search and sourcing platforms for people over 50

The first program – Healthy Hour education – is starting in Africa where the life expectancy has catchup to do and the government is open to co-creating content for schools. The younger generation there is in need of the healthy education. In fact, some call them the weaker generation because fast food has degraded their health and muscle strength. The program will focus on longer-life topics like skincare, obesity, nerve damage, diabetes, cognitive development and bone health.

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.