Cranmer is in advanced negotiations with Kantar about taking on a new strategic role, working closely with Kantar's chief executive, Eric Salama.
Kantar, a group comprising companies including Millward Brown, The Henley Centre and Kantar Media Research, is keen to appoint a key figure from the media industry as it attempts to get to grips with the impact of media issues such as fragmentation on market research offerings.
A WPP source commented: "Research businesses also need people who can sell their products in a more compelling business-led way."
It is understood that while Cranmer has yet to finalise terms with WPP and has considered other offers, a move to Kantar is all but signed and sealed. He resigned from Starcom last March on a one-year notice period. He was replaced by Iain Jacob, the former Starcom UK chief executive, last November.
Cranmer has built a reputation as a bullish and tenacious leader of media businesses. He created the Starcom offering by bringing together several media operations. Before that, he was the managing director of BBDO. While at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, he helped to create its Motive media division.
Salama said: "I have talked to Mark and a whole bunch of other people because there is convergence between media and research. We are looking at what is happening in the industry and figuring out what to do differently."
He added: "Talk of a new role being offered is jumping a few steps ahead."
- Comment, page 40.