Tonight the world will turn its collective eyes towards Sochi, Russia, as the 2014 Winter Olympic Games begin with the Opening Ceremony. When not asking themselves why the heck they had never heard of a place called ‘Sochi’ until 5 weeks ago, or feverishly laying down crisp C-notes on who will take the Ice Dancing gold this year, most Americans will be subjected to a dazzling form of content marketing.

Vegas has these two at 8 to 1 odds.

What? Content marketing? At the Olympics? Will there be some kind of 4D Kay Jewelers ads that reach through the screen and physically compel each man to buy his woman a diamond ring? No, nothing that drastic–yet. I’m simply referring to the Opening Ceremony itself. Yes, it totally hit me today: the Olympics Opening Ceremony is a classic example of content marketing!

Fiery towers: One of the most effective marketing tools around.

Of course, the ceremony is about the pageantry and the tradition and the introduction of the athletes and the baby boomer rock stars warbling through their hits from 1960-something, but it’s also about promotion. It’s about hyping the world up and shaking them from their February doldrums. It’s saying, “Hey world, look at this kick-butt party we’re having here tonight! Doesn’t this make you wanna watch bobsledding for the next two weeks?!” 

“Make this one good, Gary. The world is watching.”

Think about it: If the Opening Ceremony was just about formalities and tradition, would they spend more than $100 million to produce the thing? That’s what they reportedly spent in Beijing in 2008, and that truly was an amazing show. Of course it costs a little less to throw “the Queen” out of a chopper, but that too was entertaining.

So as you soak in the Sochi pomp and circumstance tonight, and prepare to immerse yourself in 24/7 biathlon highlights over the next half-month, just know that we know we’re on the receiving end of some gold medal content marketing here. And we don’t mind.