Russian President Vladimir Putin, arguably the most powerful man in the world (and also rumoured to be the wealthiest!), is a mushroom cloud-like looming presence over geopolitical events, bolstered in no small part by the massive public relations machine that choreographs his every public appearance and image.
Putin enjoys an almost unpredented popularity with the general Russian populace, and it seems his social media savvy has not gone unnoticed in other countries either. And his calendar, featuring the great leader in all manner of manly poses (see what we did there?) in convenient photo-ops, has become another weapon in his social media arsenal, having recently sold out in Japan.
The Guardian reported that the popularity of Putin's calendar in Japan has only been increasing by the year, especially in the run-up to the holiday season.
The Russian president's 2017 calendar featured images of him playing with his dogs in the snow, including an Akita Inu puppy. Putin's fondness for animals is well-known (and much publicised) to the media and the Japanese pup was a gift to the strongman from the governor of the Akita prefecture, located in in northern Japan, in gratitude for Russian aid following the events of the March 2011 triple nuclear disaster.
The calendar first began in 2016 after getting the tacit approval of the Kremlin, with its makers, the Loft chainstore, holding exclusive rights to print and sell the calendars. The inaugral 2016 edition showed the Russian leader fishing shirtless, practicing judo, and other manly activities.
According to Sora News, reports in Japan suggested that many of the people buying the calendars, and especially the large number of women, are fascinated with Putin’s testosterone-driven strongman image.
Indeed, within Japan, the Russian president's calendar outsells those of local matinee idols and sport celebrities. For instance, this year's Putin calendars outsold those of Japanese actor Kei Tanaka, while Yuzuru Hanyu, the reigning Olympic men’s figure skating champion, came in at third place.