Why we swapped out our logo on McLaren’s Formula 1 cars.




In order to change how the world works, we must be accountable to the communities where we live.

As an official sponsor of the McLaren Formula 1 Team we’re given a prominent spot for our logo on their cars. Formula 1 is one of the largest stages in the world. In 2021, each race had an average audience of 70.3 million people. Formula 1 viewership is shattering records with 1.4 million viewers per race in 2022, up 49% over the 2021 season average. If you became an F1 fan after discovering the hit Netflix docuseries, Formula 1: Drive to Survive, you just might be a part of those statistics. Sponsorship placement is an incredible opportunity for visibility and having our logo on the cars is a business advantage we don't take lightly.

There is truly no better place to raise awareness for a cause we care deeply about.
We chose to partner with McLaren because we’re both driven by the same thing: moving technology forward. In F1, any amount of progress, no matter how small, can make a difference. McLaren knows that better than anyone. They’ve pioneered countless advancements in the sport – first to invest in aerodynamics in the 60s, first to use carbon fibre technology, and leaders in the #WeRaceAsOne initiative that began in 2020.

So why did we give away our logo on the McLaren Formula 1 cars in Austin at the United States Grand Prix?

McLaren and Smartsheet both believe that we have a corporate responsibility to address problems facing the world. Smartsheet may not be in the business of driving at extreme speeds, but we are in the business of making work matter for the people who do it, their companies, and the customers they do it for. And, like McLaren, for this to have the greatest significance and be sustainable into the future, we need to support those who are making an impact on the next generation of scientists and engineers. Because if we’re not accountable, then we’re going backward. 

Which brings us to our logo on the McLaren cars.

The-Hidden-Genius-Project-team McLaren car panel - Sponsor X

This is Sponsor X

Sometimes leaving a mark means removing one. 

We introduced a new idea in F1 sponsorships. An idea that doesn’t focus on what our company does, but what we believe in: work that matters. We call it Sponsor X.

At the Australian Grand Prix, we replaced our logo on the McLaren F1 cars with a local nonprofit, DeadlyScience. We took all the media and marketing support we would normally use to promote our company — from logo placement on the car to our web presence and social media posts — and directed it to the organization.

And, at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas we replaced our logo on the McLaren F1 cars to amplify the work of The Hidden Genius Project, a nonprofit that trains and mentors Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities.

Meet Sponsor X: The Hidden Genius Project

“The Hidden Genius Project exists to empower and uplift young Black men by affording them opportunities to learn, innovate, and lead, and the global stage that Sponsor X provides illuminates their brilliance to tremendous proportions.”

— Brandon Nicholson,
Ph.D., Founding Executive Director at The Hidden Genius Project

The Hidden Genius Project's model has been effective in connecting Black boys and young men with computer science and entrepreneurship pathways. Fewer than 20% of incoming Geniuses (Black boys in high school) in our Intensive Immersion Program have taken a computer science course before, but over 40% of our alumni go on to major or minor in Computer Science (or related fields), while an additional 14% go on to major or minor in Business (or related fields). This platform seeks to empower organizational partners to engage the young people they serve with the tools and methods that have helped yield our results to date.

— The Hidden Genius Project Annual Report, 2021

Sponsor X is not over when the race ends
Join us in supporting The Hidden Genius Project

We’re helping raise donations for The Hidden Genius Project. More donations means helping to facilitate more technology programming for local youth and the greater community as The Hidden Genius Project continues to expand their global reach. Together, we can inspire and create the next generation of technology leaders and entrepreneurs.

Take part in the conversation

Help take The Hidden Genius Project’s mission even further by sharing their story. Use #SponsorX to show your participation and follow The Hidden Genius Project to keep up with their journey.

We set the Sponsor X nonprofits up with Smartsheet for life.
Get started with the same solutions.

Because nonprofits are so often constrained by limited resources, we’ve set up DeadlyScience and The Hidden Genius Project with our software and training — which will help ensure their long-term success. With Smartsheet helping run their programs, DeadlyScience and The Hidden Genius Project will be able to chart out their vision so that their work can be even more world changing. And maybe, most importantly, they’ll be able to devote nearly all of the funds they raise to their mission, not operations or overhead. 

Nonprofits around the world rely on Smartsheet every day to run their mission-oriented programs. Through working with them, we’ve learned a lot about what’s actually helpful and what they need to do their most impactful work.  

We’ve transformed that knowledge into creating free templates for anyone to use. The templates are designed to support the programs, campaigns, and events a nonprofit might be running. Even though Sponsor X is shining a light on local nonprofits on McLaren F1 cars during the 2022 Formula 1 season, we’re excited to broaden our support of charitable organizations everywhere.

Follow and be the first to know about Sponsor X.