Jones Soda Takes Off

Jones Soda (Nasdaq: JSDA  ) is going places. Literally.

The edgy maker of premium soft drinks is teaming up with Alaska Airlines (NYSE: ALK  ) to serve its sodas on 1,000 daily Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air flights. 

This is a pretty big deal. Canned versions of the company's cane-sugar-sweetened cola, diet cola, lemon-lime soda, and sugar-free cream soda will be among the complimentary beverages offered on flights of both of Alaska Airlines' subsidiaries, with Jones' more eclectic flavors making occasional appearances as well.

Nailing the basics first is important for Jones, as it tries land more exclusive stadium deals like the pact it made with the Seattle Seahawks. (It's also got a deal with the New Jersey Nets, once the NBA team begins playing at its new arena in Brooklyn in two seasons.) After all, if Jones can't woo consumers to its cola and lemon-lime concoctions, it will have an uphill battle in persuading other venues and casual-dining establishments to give Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) or PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP  ) the boot.

The brand's exposure to mobile passengers could be golden. It also helps that the airlines will serve cans. Jones, known mostly for its signature clear bottles, turned to National Beverage (Nasdaq: FIZZ  ) last year to open up canned distribution.

Jones' earnings growth has disappointed investors, despite the broader reach of the company's products. The CEO stepped down two months ago, and investors and management alike hope that a more seasoned leader can get the company over the operational hump without shedding its refreshing personality.

Jones Soda may not have had the same kind of success that Hansen Natural (Nasdaq: HANS  ) or Red Bull have enjoyed in the energy-drinks market, but there it's still got plenty of time to see things through. Jones can still win over the skeptics, one crowded flight at a time.


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