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Silver Bug Goes Viral With Marketing War

Max Keiser has become a fringe media star thanks to the Web
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Source: Oliver Cleve/Getty Images

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Max Keiser is a man on a mission. The activist broadcaster and former broker wants you to buy silver—actual, physical silver—and is taking to YouTube, Fox News, the Huffington Post, late-night TV, and myriad far-flung media outlets with hopes of bringing about the crash of J.P. Morgan and ultimately unsettling the underpinnings of the dollar. In other words: Forget those ‘Sell Your Gold’ infomercials and banner ads. ‘Buy Silver’ is the message.

“This is a guerilla financial marketing campaign,” he tells Adweek. “The ultimate aim here is to bring back hard money and accountability in the banking system. This is economic Armageddon! This is a way to try to fight back.”

Sound bananas? Thanks to his effective viral campaigning (his YouTube clips have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times), Keiser’s got a pulpit and a following. A co-founder of the Hollywood Stock Exchange, he also hosts shows on the English-speaking, state-backed Russian TV and Iran’s Press TV. He co-hosts The Truth About Markets, a British radio program, and produces documentary films covering markets and finance for Al Jazeera’s People & Power series, too. Who knew? Preaching silver, it seems, can make you a mini media star.

Yet Keiser is focused less on being a cult celeb and more on rebranding the dollar. His message? J.P. Morgan is sitting on a short position on silver. For every ounce of metal that gets taken off the market, he reckons the bank gets hit with 100 ounces of liability. He predicts that once the price of an ounce of silver exceeds J.P. Morgan’s stock price, it will crash the bank and ultimately force the U.S. economy to move away from its current unbacked paper currency model. (J.P. Morgan did not immediately comment.)

It may all sound kooky, but Keiser is only the most visible character in an underground movement that has spurred hundreds of blog posts and videos, and played some small part in driving up the price of precious metals. “The end of the dollar nears, and those who are paying attention know it,” writes Sean—who requested his last name not be published—who posts YouTube clips under the handle SGTbull07, in an email. “This issue is so much bigger than Max, but Max has done a nice job shining a light on it.”

In fact, the  price of silver has had a good run lately. In 2010, it increased by 80 percent. Some forecasters don’t see an end. Yet you probably want to hold on to your wallet. “You’ve got an excited populist movement: It’s easy to hate J.P. Morgan and the big banks,” says Motley Fool analyst Joe Magyer.

When the bubble bursts, perhaps Keiser should consider a career in branding.