Remembering The Summer Of Jonas, 10 Years Later

06.04.18 5 months ago

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As the summer of 2008 came to a close, the Jonas Brothers, a pop-rock trio of real-life, Disney-managed brothers, unfurled their third album into the universe. A Little Bit Longer, titled after the piano ballad of the same name, was a meditation on the youngest JoBro, Nick, and his reconciliation with a type 1 diabetes diagnosis. The album handily debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and became the band’s first chart-topping album. That same week, in mid-August, the Camp Rock soundtrack, a musical compilation featuring original songs from the Disney Channel Original Movie, starring none other than Nick, Joe, and Kevin Jonas, — then 15, 18, and 20-years-old, respectively — also held a top-ten spot on the charts. The brothers from New Jersey were deep in the throes of their Burnin’ Up tour supporting the records, a jaunt that would earn them a cool $41 million.

The near ubiquitousness of the band — from morning shows to the VMAs — proved successful for Disney, who took them under their wing in 2006 and expertly crafted a two-year, slow-burn marketing plan. The fruits of such labor culminated in a pop culture movement that touched nearly every corner of entertainment.

Between cross-promotional opportunities and a meticulously molded public brand, the Jonas Brothers successfully built a multi-platform empire that comprised of television, live performances, music videos, and tabloid fodder, a feat that might not be possible in 2018. A decade following their cultural takeover, when Disney stars no longer hold the same social capital as they once did and marketing campaigns are more effective on social media than made-for-TV movies, the intensity of the summer of Jonas plays like a relic from a not-too-distant past.

“Disney is great at creating fame,” Joe Jonas told Vulture in 2013. It’s true: Without the media and entertainment conglomerate behind the band, many of the multifaceted opportunities which added to the buildup of Jonas ventures would fail to exist. Such an occasion, the Jonas Brothers’ 2007 appearance on Hannah Montana, was the catalyst for the year that followed. The episode, “Me And Mr. Jonas And Mr. Jonas And Mr. Jonas,” aired following the premiere of High School Musical 2 — another wildly popular franchise in the Disney machine — and gleaned 10.7 million viewers, at the time, basic cable’s most-watched series episode ever. “That was definitely our first major love shown by Disney,” Joe later told Vulture, “and I think it might have been a trial to see whether they should give us a show of our own.”

Association as, or with, a Disney star in the early aughts was synonymous with exposure; the brand affiliation put entertainers in front of a lot of eyes. By linking with Miley Cyrus, as they did again at the 2007 Teen Choice Awards and as openers for Cyrus’ Best of Both Worlds Tour, the brothers cozied up with young fans and their parents. Their backstory — the sons of a pastor who came to fame after Nick was discovered in a barber shop — paired with their squeaky clean purity-ring-wearing image wielded the approval of the credit-card baring adults who would go on to purchase the albums and concert tickets for their fervent children.

By April 2008, Jonas Fever was in full swing. Over the course of one week, the JoBros made appearances on Dancing With the Stars, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Kids Choice Awards, and The Oprah Winfrey Show, adequately expanding their appeal to audiences outside of the tween purview. Because even if the Jonas Brothers didn’t entice you, you likely know someone who they did cater to.

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