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There is an omnipresent blimp drifting lazily above the city...an advertisement with a Geisha plays over and over.

What is the advertisement? She appears to be popping a pill at one point.

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According to David Dryer (the film's Effects Supervisor), the pill she is swallowing is in fact a birth control pill:

Scott's intentions with this imagery, as related by special effects supervisor, David Dryer, are revealing; "What happened... was that Ridley and I had a meeting where he told me,'I want a bunch of phony oriental commercials where geisha girls are doing unhealthy things. Smoking, taking drugs or whatever. To kind of continue with the oppressive feeling throughout the landscape". Dryer also reveals the idea he had for the type of pills the geisha is seen to be swallowing, namely, birth control pills: "This was strictly my idea - it seemed to make sense that birth control would be heavily advertised in such an overpopulated future". Berliner Chic

IMDb also identifies the line that is playing:

In the strange Japanese advertisement shown on the side of a blimp, in which a Geisha-like woman is swallowing a pill, the loud speakers play a line from a Japanese Noh play, saying "Iri Hi Katamuku," literally "the setting sun sinks down."

For completeness, I'd like to mention that the advert itself is considered to be a parody of an existing Japanese product; Strong Wakamoto. A yeast-based pill that supposedly keeps you (ahem) regular.

  • Bonus: the text down the right-hand side actually says 強力わかもと, "Strong Wakamoto". (Can a parody of Coca Cola be called as such if it literally has "Coca Cola" in the image?) – Rob Howard Jan 13 at 6:30
  • Interesting: Book seems to indicate underpopulated future, due to radiation. Movie does not seem to show over population either -- for example, Sebastian lives alone in a big building. Even the existence of replicants could imply lack of human labor. – releseabe Jul 18 at 6:36

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