Patent medicine advertising, and nineteenth-century advertising in general, helped to perpetuate popular American racial and cultural stereotypes of the period. In addition, the chromolithographic process was ushering in a new era in American advertising. Full color images depicting caricatures and other stereotypical material delivered messages with an even greater impact than simple line drawings or text-based newspaper advertisements.
Two groups were frequently targeted: African Americans and Native Americans. Advertisers employed stereotypical images of subservient black Americans featuring exaggerated dialect and facial features. They presented Native Americans as "noble savages," a type exemplified by the iconic cigar store Indian and used to sell a wide of products, including patent medicine.