Contracts such as these -- for shoes, cards and games -- are what sports
marketers call "tools of the trade deals." It remains to be seen if Oden will be able to branch out beyond them to the broader endorsements for cars, clothes and packaged goods. Usually, they go to
athletes who transcend their sports.
Oden has recently spent time reaching out to the ad world: chatting up Donny Deutsch on TV and dropping by the midtown offices of Omnicom Group and BBDO. Outreach will help, but sports-marketing experts say winning championships -- a likely outcome if Oden lives up to the best-big-man-in-a-generation hype -- is the only way for an athlete to ensure his marketability.